There has been a flurry of articles about the crazy idea to build a huge reclamation east of Lantau, for a new metropolis complete with Central Business District and homes for up to a million people or so. Hugely expensive - may well completely empty Hong Kong's coffers; hugely risky given rising sea levels and intensifying storms; and hugely controversial.
Here are clippings from a selection of these articles.
As Hong Kong recovers from one of the strongest typhoons in decades, a controversial plan to build a vast artificial island is facing intense scrutiny from environmental groups, lawmakers and academics who say it will be vulnerable to rising sea levels and storms.
The East Lantau Metropolis plan, backed by powerhouse property developers including New World Development and Henderson Land, is the government’s favored option to address a chronic housing shortage in one of the world’s most expensive property markets.
But the project, which envisions housing more than 1 million people across 1,700 hectares of reclaimed land, is probably the worst choice, said Lam Chiu-ying, a former director of Hong Kong’s weather bureau.
... The Citizens Task Force said the foundation’s plans were based on an inflated estimate of population growth and demand for land.
A better alternative would be to develop more than 1,000 hectares Hong Kong property developers already own in the city’s verdant New Territories.
Article based on a march against the project:
The East Lantau Metropolis could be the political equivalent of the grotesque, sapient creature, created by Shelley’s fictional scientist. Frankenstein’s monster creates havoc, death and destruction for its creator and there are already worrying signs that Lam’s monstrous reclamation project, could also have calamitous and dramatic political consequences for her.
The gigantic 1,700-hectare land reclamation project, announced at the Chief Executive’s policy address, earlier this month and re-named Lantau Tomorrow Vision, might attract a few more unofficial names before it’s completed.
The dangers for the Chief Executive are threefold. First, though some student groups including Demosisto were represented at the protest, most of the attendees appeared to be mainstream Hongkongers, not political agitators. Secondly, at the core of the protest is not an intangible ideal like democracy or independence but a huge artificial island seven times the size of Cheung Chau, costing hundreds of billions of dollars of public money. Thirdly, the one legitimate area of protest and dissent often tolerated, to a surprising degree, on the Mainland is environmental issues and this is a very big one.
Commentary by Lam Chiu Ying, an adjunct professor in the Geography and Resource Management Department at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and an honorary fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society:
Island of fear: massive reclamation off Lantau would be a disaster in age of climate change and sea-level rises
... is an artificial island really the answer to Hong Kong’s housing woes?
... in this age of climate change and rising sea levels, is it wise to create an island through large-scale reclamation?
... The idea of an artificial island between Hong Kong Island and Lantau has been floated for decades. It has been the pet subject of generations of engineers. Yet, nothing has happened so far for two simple reasons: there is no real need for it, and the government does not have the money for it.
Is there now a need for it? No.
... To go for a gigantic artificial island facing the open sea in a warming world is an unequivocally disastrous move.
An opinion piece by Tom Yam, who is doing much to rally opposition to the Metropolis scheme:
Before committing to the biggest infrastructure project in Hong Kong’s history, likely to take 20 to 30 years, costing more than the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge, third runway and high-speed rail link to the mainland combined, detailed scrutiny of its viability is imperative. Astoundingly, in glossy brochures and glib speeches, government and foundation officials deploy skewed projections, emotive images and feel-good scenarios in place of serious analysis.
They begin by inflating the demand for land.
... Such a city-in-the-sea, kilometres from land, will be vulnerable to rising sea levels and extreme weather.
... Our Hong Kong Foundation is campaigning for reclamation on a scale even larger than the government has proposed, but otherwise they are singing from the same song sheet. And it’s the usual two-part harmony.
The foundation’s governors and supporters represent the major developers, financial groups, big business and powerful insiders – New World, Henderson, Hang Lung, Sino Group, Shui On, Shimao, Shun Tak, Fung Group, Lan Kwai Fong Group, Arthur Li, Elsie Leung, and Bernard Chan. So it has deep pockets to lobby for reclamation-centric development.