Tagged: Kau Yi Chau

A defensive Carrie Lam vows to press on with Lantau Tomorrow

The government’s much-criticised scheme to build a massive new business and housing district on 1700ha of reclaimed land in waters off Lantau is certain to go ahead.

In her annual policy address on Wednesday chief executive Carrie Lam vowed to proceed with the plan, currently estimated to cost HK$624 billion, making it the easily most expensive public works project in the city’s history.

The Legco Finance Committee, now dominated by pro-government members, began considering approval for the initial HK$550 million funding on Friday.

But in her speech Lam struck a defensive note, calling on people “to act in an objective and fair manner with the long-term interests of Hong Kong in mind”

This is a departure from her government’s longstanding claim of wide public support for the scheme.

Lam also vowed to “continue to listen to the views of various sectors of the community,” despite having rejected widely-held criticisms about the cost, the necessity and the ecological risks posed by the project.

Source: Sustainable Lantau Office

Even pro-government legislators are querying it, with more than 20 lodging questions about the project.  They are also determined not to appear in a rush to approve the funding application, scmp.com reports.

One pro-Beijing lawmaker, Wong Kwok-kin, a member of Lam’s cabinet, complained about the public backlash they will face for voting for Lantau Tomorrow.

Appearing before Legco on Friday, Development Secretary Michael Wong faced questioning about the cost and viability, the likelihood of delays, and protection of country parks.

“We can’t issue a blank cheque and just allow you to proceed with the study and all the steps subsequent to it. We need to be careful about every penny spent,” Priscilla Leung Mei-fun, of the Business and Professionals Alliance according to scmp.com.

Wong was also asked whether reclamation was a better option than building in country parks, which account for around two-thirds of SAR land.

He said there was little support for building in parks and that it would take additional legislation.

But in a comment that carries some significance for Lantau residents, Wong downplayed the second phase of the scheme, which envisages a 700ha reclamation around Hei Ling Chau, just off Mui Wo.

Without elaborating, he described the initial phase of 1,000 ha reclamation around Kau Yi Chau as the “real” component of the project, and the second 700 ha phase of Hei Ling Chau as “virtual.”

Tom Yam of the Citizens Task Force for Land Resources has accused the government of “magical thinking” in believing the project would help solve short-term housing needs and that it will be ready by 2033.

Yam points out that government’s own forecasts anticipate the city’s population to start falling from a peak of 8.1 million from 2041.

He said the government had already identified 1400 ha in land from brownfield sites in the New Territories, while land developers had warehoused a further 1000ha.

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Govt in last-minute bid to fund Lantau Tomorrow project

The government is making a last-minute bit to win approval for the contentious Lantau Tomorrow Vision reclamation ahead of the Legco election.

Its funding request has been squeezed into the Legco finance committee agenda this Friday – the last sitting day ahead of the September 6 poll.

The government is seeking HK$550.4 million for a consultancy study into site evaluation around Kau Yi Chau and to examine transport infrastructure needs for stage one of the project.

It is the initial funding for a scheme forecast to cost HK$624 billion for the first stage alone — the city’s biggest ever construction project.

But the project is widely unpopular because of its cost and scale, the weak case for it and the presence around the city of many other white elephant public works such as the HK-Macau bridge.

The request, initially filed last year, was not voted on as a result of the democrat filibuster. It was foreshadowed by Development Secretary Michael Wong in his blog two weeks ago and then reappeared on the finance committee agenda early this week, surprising legislators and and media.

But approval seems a long way from being assured. Finance committee chair Chan Kinpor admitted to Oriental Daily yesterday it was unlikely to be passed.

Liberal Party legislator Felix Chung told HK01 last week that in the current political environment the Lantau Tomorrow plan may not be implemented at all.

The government fears it may lost control of Legco in the coming election. Pro-democracy groups overwhelmed government parties in last year’s district council election, and a primary among pro-democracy candidates on the weekend attracted more than 600,000 voters – equivalent to a fifth of total participation in the 2016 election.

Pro-Beijing parties have started to push an alternative, smaller scale reclamation on Guishan Island off southern Lantau.

Stage one of Lantau Tomorrow involves creating a 1200 ha artificial island around Kau Yi Chau, with freeway and rail links connecting to Lantau and Hong Kong islands.

A second stage, which is not part of this feasibility study, envisages creating another 500ha artificial island around Hei Ling Chau and Sunshine Island off Mui Wo.

Govt HK$550m Lantau Tomorrow funding request goes to Legco on Friday

As if Hong Kong politics were not combustible enough: the contentious Lantau reclamation project is back.

The HK$624 billion scheme to build a new CBD on reclaimed land near Lantau is the biggest and costliest in Hong Kong’s history.

The government will go to the Legco Finance Committee this Friday to seek final approval for HK$550 million for the first stage of the project – planning and engineering studies.

The proposal passed the public works subcommittee in May.

Under the scheme the government plans to create 1200ha of land for premium office space and housing for up to 1 million people around Kau Yi Chau, an island halfway between Lantau and Hong Kong.

A second stage, yet to be studied, involves building a further 500ha near Hei Ling Chau, just off Mui Wo.

Source: Sustainable Lantau Office

Critics have assailed the plan over its cost and environmental impact and poorly thought-out transport arrangements

They question the government’s figures and say it has ignored existing land stocks such as brownfield land and vacant government sites as well as tens of thousands of empty apartments.

In a briefing paper, the CEDD said it required the funds to proceed

with the planning of the KYC [Kau Yi Chau] Artificial Islands, including the formulation of detailed land use proposals, as well as the road and rail connections linking the KYC Artificial Islands with Hong Kong Island, Northeast Lantau and coastal area of Tuen Mun.

If it begins on schedule the study would complete in mid-2023, the paper said.

The biggest costs in the study are the consultants’ fees for the artificial islands (HK$190 million) and for transport infrastructure (HK$160 million).