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Hong Kong Plans $79B Artificial Island

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

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The Hong Kong government has recently announced its plans to build what will be one of the world’s largest artificial islands. The Lantau Vision Tomorrow scheme is slated to ease the territory’s housing crisis, creating 1,000 hectares (roughly 2,500 acres) of land off Hong Kong’s largest island, Lantau.

Typhoonchaser, CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Hong Kong government has recently announced its plans to build what will be one of the world’s largest artificial islands.

However, the infrastructure comes with a hefty price tag of HK$624 billion ($79 billion)—roughly four times the cost of building Hong Kong International Airport.

Protests

Although the government feels this plan will ease the city’s “serious shortage of land supply,” as described by Secretary for Development Michael Wong, thousands of activists and protesters have campaigned against the project.

Environmental groups such as Greenpeace Hong Kong, the World Wildlife Fund, Save Lantau Alliance and others have suggested cheaper and less environmentally detrimental solutions, the most popular looking to the nearly 3,000 acres of already existent brownfield sites.

“Compared with reclamation, [development of] brownfield sites has high public support and the cost is cheaper,” the Greenpeace campaigner Andy Chu told CNN.

Wong rebutted these concerns by stating that the government would make back the money through land sales that the new island would provide.

However, a leaflet released by Save Lantau Alliance argues that the project to be unnecessary. Besides the wasteful spending, the population forecasts show a decrease back to current levels by the middle of the century.

“Statistics show that Hong Kong’s population will peak at 8.22 million in 2043, and shrink to 7.6 million in 2064,” the leaflet states.

“Although the population will drop, the government still wants to justify the development by increasing land reserves for this phantom population.”

In addition to the criticism over the cost of the project, environmentalists also worry about the area’s endangered pink dolphin, who could particularly be at risk from construction. To accommodate, the Lantau Vision Tomorrow includes a $127 million conservation fund and, like other projects, plans to include the creation of a protected area for the dolphins.

About the Island

According to the South China Morning Post, the expansion was first announced last year by the Hong Kong government and led by Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor in her policy address. The origins of the idea were unveiled by her predecessor Leung Chunying decades prior, however.

byakkaya / Getty Images

Designed to withstand the impacts of climate change, the island plans to be as elevated as the Hong Kong International Airport’s artificial island—which survived last year’s Super Typhoon Mangkhut—at only six meters (19 feet) above sea level.

Slated to start reclaiming land in 2025, the man-made island would provide between 260,000 and 400,000 apartments, with more than 70 percent reserved for public housing. In total, the Lantau Tomorrow Vision aims to house roughly 1.1 million people, with residents moving in by 2032.

The price of the project will peak as Hong Kong’s most expensive infrastructure project to date, equivalent to more than half of its total financial reserves.

To make up for the cost, the city’s Legislative Council plans to discuss a proposed funding request of roughly $70.1 million to conduct feasibility studies. During the second and third quarter of the year, the government also plans on seeking funding approval from Legco’s Finance Committee after consulting the public works committee.

Designed to withstand the impacts of climate change, the island plans to be as elevated as the Hong Kong International Airport’s artificial island—which survived last year’s Super Typhoon Mangkhut—at only six meters (19 feet) above sea level.

In addition to plans for a new neighboring island, Lantau island recently opened and is home to a new mega-bridge, titled as the world’s longest sea-crossing bridge. The 34-mile, $20 billion Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge was originally slated to open in 2016, but continuous delays, including cost overruns, pushed the opening date back to October 2018.

   

Tagged categories: Airports; AS; China; Construction; Funding; Government; Infrastructure; Infrastructure; Program/Project Management; Upcoming projects

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