A think tank led by former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa has said that land reclamation east of Lantau Island could increase Hong Kong’s land supply. The reclamation project proposed on Tuesday would cover 2,200 hectares and is double the size of the government’s proposal.

The report by pro-establishment think tank Our Hong Kong Foundation recommended an artificial island to accommodate up to 400,000 flats and 1.1 million people. The size of the proposed island is equal to 110 Victoria Parks, or half the Kowloon peninsula.

Proposed reclamation area shown in orange. Photo: Handout.

“Of the 18 options suggested in the consultation document by the Task Force on Land Supply, [the Foundation] believes that only large-scale reclamation can bring about a paradigm shift,” the report read.

“The Foundation… supports the ‘East Lantau Metropolis’ plan proposed by the government. However, we believe that 1,000 hectares are not enough,” the report added.

The Development Bureau has been conducting a study titled “Hong Kong 2030+: Towards a Planning Vision and Strategy Transcending 2030” since 2015. IT first introduced the idea of the East Lantau Metropolis created by land reclamation.

A 2016 press conference on the Hong Kong 2030+ development plan. File Photo: GovHK.

The Foundation said that the artificial island will be connected to Kowloon and Hong Kong Island via roads and railway, and will be positioned in range of the Greater Bay Area.

‘No more expensive’

The chief executive of the environmental group Green Sense Roy Tam said the Foundation’s plans will be prohibitively expensive. He estimated that it would cost HK$600 billion in total, with reclamation costing HK$320 billion and transport infrastructure costing HK$280 billion.

At its Tuesday press event, the Foundation did not give an overall cost estimate despite questions from reporters. It claimed that one square foot of reclaimed land would cost HK$1,360, which was “no more expensive” than other land supply options.

Our Hong Kong Foundation was criticised last year for similar land reclamation proposals for Lamma Island, Cheung Chau and Po Toi.

Roy Tam (centre). Photo: inmediahk.net.

At the time, Green Sense called the plans “unrealistic and divisive,” and criticised the Foundation for ignoring environmental and financial costs.

The Foundation said on Tuesday that the artificial island will have “buffer zones” on its shoreline so as to protect the environment, and will have no overlap with the habitat of dolphins. Construction of the artificial island would be expected to take 11 years.

Holmes Chan

Holmes Chan is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. He covers local news with a focus on law, politics, and social movements. He studied law and literature at the University of Hong Kong.