OPINION ON ENHANCING LAND SUPPLY STRATEGY
RECLAIMATION OUTSIDE VICTORIA HARBOR AND ROCK CAVERN DEVELOPMENT
In March 2013, the Hong Kong Development Bureau (DB) began the second stage of public consultations on its plans for land reclamation. In the new proposal, six different sites were short-listed as being suitable for strategic reclamation. Lung Kwu Tan in Tuen Mun was one such site.
The N.T. Concern Group recognizes the need for an adequate and steady supply of land in Hong Kong. This should be achieved by the implementation of appropriate and reasonable policies, but not with the current predisposition towards land reclamation. Simply reclaiming more land without other complimentary policies will not resolve the issue, as it does not address the root of the land shortage problem. We hope that the Government would revise their priorities, and not reclaim land simply for the sake of reclaiming land.
Firstly, the Government should maximize utility of existing and already-developed land. Secondly, the Government should implement an integrated and all-round rezoning strategy, perhaps through land resumption of deserted or underused areas in the New Territories. This may include neglected agricultural fields, abandoned brownfield sites, as well as old warehouses and quarry locations. These types of land are commonplace in areas such as Yuen Long Plain, Hung Shui Kiu, Tuen Mun, and Pak Nai. Furthermore, by reducing the Frontier Close Areas in places such as Sha Tau Kok, the Government can increase land supply by more than 740 hectares. The land size is vast in these existing areas, and should be sufficient to meet the foreseeable development demands in Hong Kong.
Lantau Island, which is located in the south-west region of the New Territories, must also be mentioned as another prime area for further development. Complimented by existing infrastructural investment, it is an area ripe with potential. Lantau Island is made up by 147.16 square kilometers of land. The development of even half the island could boost land reserves by almost 7,000 hectares, which should be enough to support Hong Kong’s land demand in the next two to three decades.
In the expansion of land reserves, the Hong Kong Government must not disregard the possible environment impacts. Instead, it is crucial that a balance must be struck between the advantages of land development and the ecological detriments that such projects may bring about. Land reclamation is unlikely to be an optimal choice. Instead, we could create new opportunities within Hong Kong that are beneficial to all sections of the community by maximizing utility of existing land or by further developing Lantau Island.