Support in doubt for Lantau Tomorrow Vision plan

Support in doubt for Lantau Tomorrow Vision plan

The Task Force on Land Supply has recommended reclamation east of Lantau after a public consultation, but it does not mean a majority of Hongkongers support the government’s Lantau Tomorrow Vision plan, chairman Stanley Wong Yuen-fai says.

The task force submitted its report to the government on Monday with eight land-supply options.

Three short-term and five mid-term options are proposed, including targeting the Fanling Golf Course, New Territories brownfields, New Territories privately owned farmland, near-shore reclamation outside Victoria Harbour. The others are creating the East Lantau Metropolis, developing river trade terminal sites, other areas in the New Territories and caverns and underground space.

The East Lantau Metropolis as a land supply option was one of the most controversial.

But during the consultation people were told the option would involve reclaiming about 1,000 hectares – less than the 1,700 hectares envisaged in the Lantau Tomorrow Vision announced in the policy address of Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor.

Wong stressed yesterday that the majority of people supported a reclamation of 1,000 hectares but not 1,700 hectares.

“The government can’t conclude that the community supports the Lantau Tomorrow Vision just because people support the 1,000-hectare reclamation,” Wong said.

He believes the government should carry out another public consultation if the reclamation scale is expanded.

Among the people surveyed, 62 percent supported the East Lantau Metropolis, while 58 percent interviewed via phone endorsed the proposal.

However, qualitative analysis showed that among almost 70,000 opinions given during the consultation, 63,900 of them were negative on the mega reclamation plan.

Social groups criticized the report for failing to fully show public opinion on the artificial island, but Wong defended it, saying: “These written submissions and e-mails cannot simply be calculated with numbers.”

Liber Research Community member Chan Kim-ching, speaking on the same radio program with Wong, said the task force report should only be called an “expert report” but not a “public opinion report.”

Chan added: “This public consultation was done before Lam’s announcement of the Lantau Tomorrow Vision, and the result shows that people supported the concept of an artificial island, while it was clear that they generally opposed it after learning about its details such as the costs.”

The public consultation ended in late September, when the public only knew about a proposed 1,000-hectare artificial island, but the 1,700-hectare plan did not come out until October.

Dave Hallam, board chairman of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, supported the reclamation for land supply and found the artificial island crucial. He called on the government to hasten the commissioning of feasibility and planning studies.

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