Government’s ambitious East Lantau option “a massive $500b error”

Government’s ambitious East Lantau option “a massive $500b error”

Green groups estimate that reclamation in East Lantau may cost taxpayers HK$500 billion. They also slammed the consultation on land supply as misleading.

After the launch of the online survey, five green groups held a joint conference, criticizing the government for downplaying the costs and environmental impact of reclamation.

A member of the Citizen Task Force on Land Resources, Thomas Yam Hin-pong, slammed the East Lantau Metropolis plan – which requires extensive land reclamation – as unnecessary.

“It doesn’t only include reclamation but also five tunnels or bridges for some 29 kilometers in total,” Yam said. “And it would be at least HK$400 billion or HK$500 billion, even more expensive than the total sum of the third airport runway, express rail and Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge.”

He provided a breakdown showing reclamation of 1,000 hectares would only cost HK$122 billion. But the tunnels and rails would cost HK$303 billion, including costs for the commercial zone, basic infrastructure and social facilities like hospitals and schools.

“It would cost HK$470 million per square kilometer,” Yam said.

Yam said the public is also not well informed about the other options, including reclamation outside Victoria Harbour. He added: “Among the 450 hectares of reclamation, 400 hectares have nothing to do with housing, as that in Lung Kwu Tan is for industrial use, Siu Ho Wan is for low-density development, Sunny Bay is for recreation and southwest of Tsing Yi is for logistics,” Yam said.

Green Sense chief executive Roy Tam Hoi-pong slammed the task force survey for being loaded with mistakes, saying it would “not even qualify for secondary school liberal studies.”

He also said people should be asked whether they accepted the 1,200-hectare figure for land shortage. Tam believed the government estimated the shortage on ungrounded assumptions about the population.

Tam slammed the survey for only having discounts for certain land options including brownfield but not reclamation.

He urged the task force to take back the survey and redesign it – or the public consultation would be nothing but a public relations show.

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