Lantau residents don’t feel consulted on development plans: survey

A survey of Lantau residents and visitors has found that just half believe the level of consultation over government development plans for the island has been inadequate.

In addition, more than two-thirds were worried that the air quality of Tung Chung would deteriorate after the opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge.

The survey of 302 people in Tung Chung, Mui Wo, Pui O and Tai O was carried out by the Baptist University College of International Education last October. Just under half of the respondents were Lantau residents, 37% were tourists and 9% were local employees.

Only 56% had heard of the government’s Sustainable Lantau Blueprint, released in June, the Economic Times reported.

Half considered the level of government consultation inadequate or very inadequate, and only 8% considered it adequate.

They were also concerned about air pollution – 70% expect the opening of the HZM Bridge will make the air in North Lantau and Tung Chung worse – and the growing traffic loads in South Lantau, with 54% believing the volume of vehicles should be linked to the environmental carrying capacity.

Dr Karen Wu, a lecturer at the college, said the general public believed that development of Lantau should prioritise conservation of natural heritage and culture ahead of transport development. She said authorities should focus on protecting threatened conservation hotspots.

A Development Bureau spokesperson told the Economic Times that “as a whole, there is general public support” for the government’s Lantau plans.

However, the survey confirms what the government’s own polling has shown, which is that Hong Kong people have reservations about Lantau development, in particular over the East Lantau Metropolis proposal.

Tom Yam, a Mui Wo resident and vocal critic of the ELM, points out that the government has consistently overlooked public opposition. He wrote in an scmp.com op-ed last August:

After last years’ public consultation on the future of Lantau, the government claimed general support for its development plan, ignoring the fact that more respondents opposed specifically the construction of the East Lantau Metropolis than supported it.

That survey had found that just 31% agreed on the creation of the ELM on artificial islands, with 56% opposing it.

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