To Financial Secretary, Secretary for Development, Secretary for the Environment, Director of Civil Engineering and Development, Director of Environmental Protection, Director of Planning, Legco Finance Committee,
We express our firm opposition to the Lantau Tomorrow Vision (LTV) project.
It was initially proposed in Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s 2018 Policy Address. It aimed to construct artificial islands, totalling an area of 1,700 hectares, to combat Hong Kong’s housing crisis. It was initially estimated to cost approximately HK$624 billion, and is controversial for economic and environmental reasons (HKFP, 2019).
It is not financially feasible, and is environmentally damaging, vulnerable to storm surges, and does little to solve the housing crisis because of the reasons below.
The ecosystem and biodiversity of East Lantau waters and islands will be impacted by reclamation. An ecological survey conducted by WWF (2020) has found high biodiversity within the construction zone, including at least 35 coral species, marine species:- spotted seahorse (Hippocampus kuda), sea pen (Virgularia sp.), pipefish (Trachyrhamphus sp.), and several uncommon terrestrial species:- White-bellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster, National Protection Class II) and Bogadek’s Burrowing Lizard (Dibamus bogadeki, endangered and endemic to East Lantau islands). These species are facing the threats of habitat loss and invasive species that are likely to be introduced to the islands during reclamation activities. Under the international treaty – Convention of Biological Diversity, Hong Kong is obligated to conserve local biodiversity and protect endemic species from extinction through development.
Typhoon storm surges are expected to worsen as climate change accelerates. But, the LTV underestimates environmental factors such as storm surge under super storm and sea level rise, constructing only 5 meters of seawall. To withstand these adversed factors, experts suggested the seawall of artificial islands should be at least 12.5 meters high (HK01 Press, 2018). Hence, the LTV is a risky investment that endangers residents’ safety (Legco, 2018).
The LTV is not financially sustainable. We are concerned for future generations and want prudent financial decisions to be made. When accounting for inflation, at 4.6% annually as per the CEDD, the LTV’s projected cost exceeds HK$1 trillion, or greater than HK’s fiscal reserves. Furthermore, the plan to issue government bonds is not feasible: it will cause debt to exceed HK$14 trillion by 2041-42 (Green Peace East Asia, 2019).
We urge the government to pursue environmentally and financially sustainable alternatives to solve HK’s housing crisis and revitalise the economy by:
- Using Brownfields across Hong Kong- This proposal received the most public support. It costs an estimated HK$33.3 billion, and holds the potential for at least 139,000 public housing flats (Green Power, 2019).
- Resuming Land – Developers currently hold 900+ hectares of land across Hong Kong, meeting ~75% of the 1200 hectare of land shortage (The Standard, 2019).
- Redeveloping Buildings – Offer financial incentives for efficient land use and the revitalisation of old, non-historic buildings, e.g.: Kwun Tong Town Centre Project.
- Investing in Eco-Tourism – Estimates suggest that ten million eco-friendly jobs could be created by 2030 (HKFP, 2019).
Green Peace East Asia. (2020). ‘Analysis of Lantau Tomorrow’s Impact on Hong Kong Public Finance’ Report. Blog – Live Sustainably. https://www.greenpeace.org/eastasia/blog/6101/analysis-of-lantau-tomorrows-impact-on-hong-kong-public-finance-report/
Green Power. (2019). Updated survey findings indicate the ecological importance of East Lantau waters Groups urge the Government to abandon “Lantau Tomorrow”. Press Release. https://www.greenpower.org.hk/html5/download/press/20190322_e.pdf
HK01 Press. (2018). 【明日大嶼】人工島海堤至少需12.5米高 林超英斥「貼錢買難受」. [Written in Chinese]
HKFP. (2019). Lantau Tomorrow Vision: Student green group asks why Hong Kong wants to spoil an exquisite natural habitat. HKFP Voices. Hong Kong Free Press. https://hongkongfp.com/2019/11/03/lantau-tomorrow-vision-student-green-group-asks-hong-kong-wants-spoil-exquisite-natural-habitat/
Legco. (2018). Official Record of Proceedings. Legislative Council. https://www.legco.gov.hk/yr18-19/english/counmtg/hansard/cm20181109-translate-e.pdf
The Standard. (2019). Major developers own 20pc farmland. https://www.thestandard.com.hk/sections-news_print.php?id=211665
WWF Hong Kong. (2020). East Lantau Reclamation. New Deal for Nature and People. Oceans. https://d3q9070b7kewus.cloudfront.net/downloads/oceans_east_lantau_reclamation.pdf