Public consultation (or ‘consultation’) on Lantau development is in its final week. On recent evidence it is difficult to believe it will make a difference.
This blog has attended two public forums on Lantau in the past fortnight – one at Hong Kong University and the other one at Pier 8, Central. The way these work is that senior officials turn up, take notes and occasionally answer questions while people tell them what they’re doing wrong. Then they go back to their offices, tick the ‘consultation’ box and life goes on.
This simple sign contains four ideas totally absent from discussions about the future of Lantau:
- The environmentally fragile coastline should be protected
- It is a natural asset for all to enjoy
- It is important that it should be publicly accessible
- Government should be play an active role to ensure 1), 2) and 3)
What it doesn’t say: the coastline should be turned into a frontline economic development zone to support mass tourism.
Yet another problem has emerged on the troubled Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge project, with the Highways Department confirming seven piles have been replaced.
The Apple Daily reported Sunday that a contractor had replaced seven large-diameter piles, each tens of meters long, at its own cost.
The name of the contractor, the reasons for the replacement work and the exact location were not clear, although one of the replaced piles is for the artificial island that will host the boundary crossing facility next to Chek Lap Kok. The 3m diameter pile had been buried to a depth of 60 or 70 meters. Continue reading
Lantau rural committee leaders have complained the government’s development plans don’t go far enough, with three calling for development in country parks.
Speaking at last week’s Islands District Council meeting, South Lantao Rural Committee representative Cheung Fu said that with several hundred thousand people on the public housing waiting list, new homes should be built on “low ecological value country park land.”
Fan Chi-ping, the Tung Chung Rural Committee representative, said the government should care more about the “feelings of rural people,” Local Press reported. Despite Hong Kong’s rank as the world’s most unaffordable housing market, Fan said there were too many “conservation sites,” which was forcing down the market value of land. Continue reading
A real estate expert has called into question the economic and environmental feasibility off the government’s East Lantau Metropolis plan.
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
It seems even the boosters of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge don’t think it will help the local tourism industry.
The SCMP has run two slightly panicked pieces on the pending opening of Shanghai Disneyland and just how badly that might hurt our own temple to the Mouse.
A long feature on Saturday asked if the two cities can “share the spoils?” Yet in the hefty list of compelling features at the local Disney site – we’re talking Iron Man Experience and Fairy Tale Forest here – no one has thought to mention the bridge.
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.
Protestors in Mui Wo today came face to face with the government’s point man on Lantau development for the first time since the release of the controversial LanDAC report.
About 50 people marched through the streets of Mui Wo to confront Development Secretary Paul Chan as he opened the new children’s playground next to the wet market.
The demonstrators called on the government to withdraw the LanDAC report and to keep the ban on outside vehicles from entering South Lantau. Continue reading
Industrial accidents on the Macau bridge project have killed six workers and delayed the project by more than a year, according to local news site HK01.
The Highways Dept has attributed delays to labour shortages and the uncertain supply of materials, but the rising toll of injury could be the biggest factor of all.
According to HK01, the project has been shut down as a result of injuries and safety issues for 439 days. As well as the six deaths, 129 workers have been injured since construction began in 2011. Continue reading
Environment Secretary Wong Kam Sing seems to be unaware of the detail of the government’s Lantau development plans.
He told an RTHK interviewer last week that he believed the plans for Lantau South were “primarily” about ecotourism, with “conservation at the core.”
“The environmental impact should be very small,” he added.
Wong did not appear to know that the LanDAC report, issued on January 8, stipulates 14 tourist hot spots around Lantau, including ten in Lantau South (Mui Wo, Tai O, Sunset Peak, Pui O, Cheung Sha, Shui Hau, Tai O Valley, Sokos, Yi O, Fan Lau). Continue reading