Though a substantial amount of Hong Kong city - notably along the north shore of Hong Kong Island - is built on reclaimed land, new and somewhat half-baked plans for a further 25 reclamations are highly alarming. These threaten some relatively pristine natural areas, including in island vicinities away from the city. According to the South China Morning Post:
To the dismay of environmentalists, the proposals include building man-made islands adjoining Cheung Chau, Lamma and Hei Ling Chau islands to the west of Hong Kong Island. Other proposed sites would require reclaiming at least part of the sea between Po Toi Island and Beaufort Island to the south and between Peng Chau and Hei Ling Chau.
As well as these five offshore sites, seven sites affect natural but unprotected shorelines including Lung Kwu Tan, near Tuen Mun, where more than 400 hectares could be reclaimed. Reclamation along 13 areas of already modified shoreline is proposed, including Tolo Harbour, Mui Wo in Lantau and Tseung Kwan O.
The Cheung Chau man-made island alone could supply at least 1,500 hectares
Reclamation project will destroy last natural beach in Sha Tin district
This beautiful location is the last remaining natural beach in Sha Tin district.
Reclamation works and the subsequent building projects will also seriously affect the quality of life for Ma On Shan's 200,000 residents.
Adverse impacts include environmental degradation, traffic jams, and air and noise pollution.
Right behind the beach is the YMCA youth camp. It is the only camp in Hong Kong that is such a short distance from the city. It is used by residents and various international organisations.
This delightful beach was rated by CNN as Hong Kong 's "best beach for romantic sunsets". Near it are mangrove forests, interesting geological formations and sea life like starfish and sea horse. There are also historic heritage attractions such as a fishing village and Wu Kai Sha village. Should reclamation proceed, the area's unique charm will be irrevocably lost.
Ma On Shan Park, the waterfront promenade, the pier and various recreational facilities together with the natural beach enhance the pleasure of living in the area.
Some of these waterfront facilities have only recently been constructed and if reclamation goes ahead, taxpayers' money would be totally wasted.
A petition has been launched to persuade the government to preserve the beach (www.wksbeach.com).
Officials should zone Wu Kai Sha as a gazetted beach and the natural beach and bay area as a protected shoreline.
Y. H. Kwok, Ma On Shan