(To watch the full media session with sign language interpretation, click here.)
Chief Executive Carrie Lam said reclamation is one of the feasible options for creating land in Hong Kong if country parks and wetlands cannot be used for development.
Mrs Lam made the statement ahead of today’s Executive Council meeting in response to media queries about whether reclamation in Hong Kong would contradict President Xi Jinping’s commitment to protect the environment.
She said: “Hong Kong’s land area is very limited. There’re 1,100 sq km and the developed proportion is about 26% to 27% because Hong Kong people, including me, we all treasure the country parks, the wetlands, and many of them are topographically very difficult – there are slopes.
“So the possibility of creating large parcels of land for us to create the new towns that we used to do in the 1960s and 1970s has become very difficult, if not impossible.”
Mrs Lam pointed out that reclamation outside of Victoria Harbour has always been an option and this idea had been floated more than 10 years ago when she was the Secretary for Development.
“We had already done a very extensive public consultation on further options to create land. It then included using cavern development, reclamation in the form of artificial islands, resumption of private land and brownfield development.
“By now, I think people should realise, again, this is a reality that if you don’t allow the Government to touch the country parks, the wetlands, if there are extreme difficulties in resuming some of the land because they have active operations which will affect the economy, then the reclamation that we have been proposing is one of the feasible options.”
The Chief Executive also said that reclamation has benefits.
“There is another environmental benefit of reclamation in Hong Kong, which is to absorb the public fill materials created by the building works in Hong Kong, which are being transported to Taishan to do reclamation under a central government-approved scheme, but that will be exhausted in a few years’ time so we have to find our own solution.”
She added that the Lantau Tomorrow Vision has advantages not only in forming large parcels of land but also completes an efficient rail and road network connecting Hong Kong Island via the artificial islands to the western part of the New Territories, and also gives the city a chance to have a third central business district.