Secretary for Development Michael Wong Wai-lun said as he confirmed the government will press ahead with the controversial Lantau artificial island plan.
He said the government will apply for funding for preliminary research early next year.
The 1,700-hectare artificial island plan has been at the center of controversy since its announcement in Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s policy address last week.
Former assistant director of planning Augustine Ng Wah-keung has criticized the artificial island plan, which is expected to cost “at least HK$400 billion to HK$500 billion” or even more, for being inflexible. He also said it would be irreversible if the economy weakens in the future.
Speaking yesterday, Wong again defended the reclamation project, which was enlarged from its original 1,000-hectare plan, saying that the land shortage problem is so critical that the government could not wait until next year to come up with solutions.
In response to Ng, Wong said neither the artificial island reclamation, nor other mega infrastructure projects, will be halted once construction begins.
Wong said the government will apply for funding from the Legislative Council to pay for research on the 1,000-hectare reclamation around Kau Yi Chau in the Lantau Tomorrow Vision project.
Wong said he sees no insurmountable difficulties and believes the government will find it tough to turn to the New Territories to look for sites as the plots are environmentally valuable, or the hills are too steep or fragmented for development.
“Don’t forget that transport pressure in New Territories east and west is already severe, and the reclamation in Kau Yi Chau is an option able to withstand strong challenges,” he said.
However, Lam Chiu-ying, the former director of the Hong Kong Observatory, said the government should have a comprehensive plan for the community before beginning the reclamation process.