Category: East Lantau Metropolis

Lantau residents, NGOs seethe over stacked consultation

Is it a public consultation when the public is not invited?

Local residents and NGOs are still fuming over their exclusion from a public consultation on Hong Kong long-term development plans – the latest in a series of steps that appear to be aimed at limiting criticism of the East Lantau Metropolis (ELM) project.

Randy Yu (fifth from right), rural committee leaders and officials at the March 22 forum

The plan to build an new retail, commercial and housing hub on 1000 hectares of sea reclamation off Lantau, with MTR and freeway links between Mui Wo and Central, could cost as much as HK$400 billion.

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Think tank endorses ELM, hopes Lantau will somehow stay green

A classic case of cognitive dissonance: a think tank calls for preservation of South Lantau’s natural heritage, yet also urges construction of the East Lantau Metropolis (ELM).


All roads to ELM run through Silvermine Bay

A report by Tung Chee-wah’s Our Hong Kong Foundation on the city’s land supply says Hong Kong has had no major land development for more than a decade and the focus now should be on Lantau.

Like the government-appointed LanDAC commitee, it’s an enthusiast about Lantau’s economic potential because of its location at the centre of the Pearl River Delta.

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East Lantau Metropolis will be nearly as large as airport

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A site for flyovers: Kau Yi Chau

The East Lantau Metropolis (ELM) will require reclamation of around 1000 hectares in Hong Kong central waters, activists have calculated.

That is equivalent to roughly 1,000 rugby fields and compares with the 1,200 ha Chek Lap Kok Airport and the 130 ha artificial island for the Hong Kong-Macau Bridge landing zone.

Those are the estimates from conservation group Save Lantau Alliance, based on close observation of the infamous 3D model of the ELM in Paul Chan’s office. Continue reading

Lantau development will bring ‘uncontrollable eco-vandalisms’

This blog has finally got around to trawling through the submissions to the LegCo hearing on Lantau development in April.  First up: environmental groups warn the government’s development programme will lead to “uncontrollable eco-vandalisms” because of the lack of zoning protections and weak enforcement.

In a joint submission, five green NGOs say they are “deeply concerned” by the development-centric model that does not provide adequate protection for important conservation sites.

They point out that the island has “exceptionally rich biodiversity,” including the Chinese White Dolphin, the finless porpoise and Romer’s Tree Frog, among others. “However, the deficiency in enforcement capabilities due to loopholes in existing legislation has rendered Lantau vulnerable to environmental vandalism,” they warn.

This is because, under the Hong Kong approach to land use and conservation, a site can only be protected if it is designated as a development site, known as a Development Permission Area (DPA). To give a prominent example: the South Lantau Coast Outline Zoning Plan (OZP) was published in 1980 yet has not been covered by a DPA plan.

As a result, eco-vandalism has been proliferating with impunity on private land, including ecologically important wetlands in Pui O. With such a loophole in statutory control under the Town Planning Ordinance, the future economic activities stimulated by the proposed developments and the ease of access caused by the relaxation of closed roads would lead to uncontrollable eco-vandalisms and further encroachment on unspoiled natural habitats.

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The paper lists 16 species or habitats that are of conservation concern, including Yam O and Sunny Bay wetlands, Tung Chung Valley, Tung Chung Bay, the northwest Lantau coast and Tai O.

It says areas without statutory protection should be designated with DPAs or incorporated into the Country Park system “without delay” because of the imminent development pressure. DPAs should be applied urgently to rural areas already covered by OZPs, such as the Pui O wetlands.

The five NGOs – Designing Hong Kong, Green Power, Hong Kong Bird Watching Society, The Conservancy Association and WWF Hong Kong – also call for the continued enforcement of South Lantau’s closed roads, urging the adoption of public and environmental-friendly transport rather than private cars.

Any new roads should be well justified, assessed (in the context of environmental impacts and cost effectiveness) and publicly consulted. Green Groups opine that no new roads should be planned in Country Parks, South Lantau and Tung Chung Bay, and near or in other ecological important sites.

They also urge the establishment the West Lantau Marine Park in the waters off Yi O and Tai O to connect all the Marine Parks around Lantau. This would reduce the impact on dolphins of the rush of development projects by safeguarding their remaining habitats and preserving travelling corridors.

The submission was endorsed by 21 other NGOs, including Ark Eden, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace East Asia and Living Islands Movement.

Expert casts doubt on case for new hub off Lantau coast

A real estate expert has called into question the economic and environmental feasibility off the government’s East Lantau Metropolis plan.


Kau Yi Chau: the intended hub of the hub

The government has pitched the scheme for a commercial and residential hub of up to 700,000 people on an artificial island off Lantau’s east coast as a means of providing housing and economic activity.

But Leo Cheung, head of business valuation at property services company Icon City, said in a letter to Hong Kong Economic Journal it was difficult to see any “geographic operational synergies” for the hub in any sector other from logistics.

The government’s economic projections “belong to the unknown,” he says. Continue reading

Oh, that was the start of the public consultation

Yesterday’s opening of the Mui Wo playground was in fact the launch of the government’s ‘public engagement’ programme.

The LanDAC website lists 15 ‘events’ over the next three months that comprise the public consultation over the future of Lantau. Of those events, 12 are information displays. Only three public forums are planned in which the public can express their views.


Engaged public at Mui Wo playground yesterday

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LanDAC: Develop Lantau, but conserve the airport and Macau bridge

In its final work report LanDAC, the government’s Lantau advisory committee, urges stronger conservation protection, but proposes new road and rail links through a country park and affirms support for the massive East Lantau Metropolis (ELM) plan.

The committee offers no support for protecting the island’s threatened wetlands, its buffalo and cattle herds or the shrinking Chinese white dolphin population. Incredibly, however, among those items it does regard as worthy of conservation are the airport, Ngong Ping 360 and the yet-to-be-completed Hong Kong-Macau Bridge. These are significant for “landscape conservation,” the report says.

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Heritage item

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Contentious Lantau development body ends first term

The Lantau Development Advisory Committee (LanDAC), the developer-friendly advisory body responsible for ideas such as the end of the closed road, extending Ngong Ping 360 and filling in Shek Pik reservoir, has reached the end of its first term.

The current committee held its final meeting Monday and is now preparing a report to the government. The committee will continue its work, but its membership is unclear.

Yesterday’s meeting spent time on transport infrastructure, Apple Daily reports. Some members argued that if the East Lantau Metropolis (ELM) is built in the waters off Mui Wo, providing road and rail connections direct to Hong Kong island, then the MTR also be extended on the north coast to connect to Tuen Mun and the New Territories, complementing the Chek Lap Kok-Tuen Mun road link now under construction. Continue reading