Internal documents obtained by the Apple Daily showed that Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying planned to build residential flats at a public fill area next to the Tseung Kwan O landfill, apparently against advice from governmental departments.

Location of the proposed housing.

The documents revealed that last August, Leung proposed to build 35,000 residential units that would accommodate a population of 100,000 at Tseung Kwan O Area 137.

According to the paper, internal assessment showed that the development potential in the area was limited. The Environmental Protection Department and the Civil Engineering and Development Department ruled that public fill and waste management facilities must continue to operate at their existing sites until there are new spots for them to relocate to, since landfills in Hong Kong are reaching their maximum capacity.

However, not moving the facilities would limit the possibility of extending the Tseung Kwan O MTR line to the area, which is a prerequisite for changing the land use in the area to accommodate residential flats.

Despite these concerns, in a meeting in January 2015, Leung reportedly insisted having the waste management facilities moved to Lung Kwu Tan in Tuen Mun district. The documents apparently disclosed that Tuen Mun District Council Chairman Lau Wong-fat, who owned several pieces of land on Lung Kwu Tan, had proposed a deal with the government to have the facilities moved there in exchange for tens of millions of dollars in compensation. The plan would involve a resite of the existing Lung Kwu Tan village.

Leung also did not appear to have plans to extend the railway to Area 137. If housing was built there, residents would be neighbours with a desalting plant. The nearest MTR station, LOHAS Park, is 9 minutes away by car.

Professor Edward Yiu of the Geography and Resource Management Department at CUHK told Apple Daily that in order to accommodate a population of 100,000, the neighbourhood should be equipped with well-developed infrastructure, most importantly a railway system. For instance, he said, three railway stations are needed to cater for the 300,000 people in the Sha Tin District.

He added that since Area 137 had long served as a public fill, few improvements have been made to the area over the years.

The fill bank at Tseung Kwan O Area 137, along with the neighbouring South East New Territories Landfill, stretches for about 104 hectares. It is currently a site for deep water harbour industries. The area also serves as a public fill, collecting and temporarily storing reusable construction waste to be transported to China and other landfills.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.