Passive HK govt waiting to hear from Beijing on new Lantau reclamation

The Hong Kong government has taken a passive stance toward calls for a huge reclamation off south Lantau, with Development Secretary Michael Wong saying it won’t commit either way without a “concrete proposal.”

Replying to a Legco question from pro-government legislator Alice Mak last week, Wong said he was aware of discussions about creating land for Hong Kong through reclamation in mainland China waters.

But he said the government would not take a position on suggestions – mostly from DAB politicians – to reclaim land around the island of Guishan, in mainland waters about 5km off Lantau’s most southerly point.

“In the absence of a more concrete proposal, the government is not in a position to make specific response at the moment,” Wong said.

The Guishan scheme is reportedly under consideration by Beijing as a means of adding to the land supply and helping kick-start the Hong Kong economy.

But Wong’s reply suggests that the government is either waiting for mainland officials to come up with a proposal, or that it would not make any move until given some direction by Beijing.

Wong adds that the government is open to “suggestions that could help relieve the land shortage,” but also makes it clear that it has no thought of taking action itself.

This continues a pattern seen in other major public works such as the HK$119 billion HK-Macau bridge, the HK$83 billion West Kowloon rail terminus and the HK$624 billion Lantau Tomorrow Vision, all driven strongly by Beijing.

The Guishan reclamation scheme was raised by DAB members during the recent NPC session in Beijing.

Pro-Beijing politicians and others since offered multiple ideas on how Guishan could be developed.

At a recent roundtable discussion, Leung Che-cheung, Legco member for New Territories West, which includes Lantau, pointed out that the unpopular Lantau Tomorrow scheme has not even been funded and would take at least a decade to complete, Ming Pao reported.

He said Guishan could provide 1,000 hectares of land, enough to accommodate 200,000 households and house new industries.

Tony Tse, the Legco member for the architecture sector, said Guishan could be a site for public housing and university facilities and prisons. Its position in the centre of the Greater Bay Area meant the Kwai Chung container terminal could be relocated there.

Despite its location far from any urban area, Guishan advocates have not spent much time discussing transport arrangements.

Leung said the island would be just “20 minutes” away from Central by high-speed ferry. He also called for construction of a connecting bridge from Guishan to the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, 20km away.

 

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