Following is a question by the Hon Gary Zhang and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Ms Bernadette Linn, in the Legislative Council today (April 19):
In the discussion paper on "Study on the Artificial Islands in the Central Waters" (the paper) submitted to the Panel on Development of this Council in December last year, the Government pointed out that the Kau Yi Chau Artificial Islands (KYCAI) would provide land to develop a core area of a new generation, increase housing supply and develop a third Central Business District; and the transport infrastructure for supporting the development of KYCAI would significantly enhance the connection between the Harbour Metropolis and the Northern Metropolis. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) given that the Government indicated in the paper that it would formulate a preliminary plan for KYCAI that can tackle coastal disasters, whether the Government has considered introducing preventive measures against the impact of sea level rise, and whether the coastal protection measures to be adopted can withstand the damage caused by natural disasters;
(2) given that the Government proposed to build residential flats on KYCAI for accommodating a population of 500 000 to 550 000, whether it has estimated if the design capacity of the proposed Hong Kong Island West – Northeast Lantau Link can meet the demand arising from such population;
(3) given that according to the final report of the "Hong Kong 2030+: Towards a Planning Vision and Strategy Transcending 2030" published in October 2021, Hong Kong will be short of about 2 600 to 3 000 hectares of land by 2048, of the Government's latest projections (including the shortfall in (i) housing land (ii) economic land and (iii) land for government, institution and community facilities, open space and transport infrastructure);
(4) given that the Government pointed out in the paper that KYCAI comprises three islands (i.e. Island A to Island C), of the order of priority for the reclamation works and the justifications for such order;
(5) given that the public consultation on the KYCAI development ended on the 31st of last month, of the mode of the consultation adopted, the details and the timetable of the public engagement activities, as well as the total number of submissions collected during the consultation period;
(6) given that the Government will study the feasibility of extending the Hong Kong Island West – Hung Shui Kiu Rail Link westward to Tuen Mun West after landing in Tuen Mun East, but the paper did not include the study in the scope of the overall planning study on KYCAI, of the reasons for that; and
(7) of the new measures in place to reduce the impact of the reclamation works for the KYCAI development on the environment?
The project of the Kau Yi Chau Artificial Islands (Artificial Islands) will create 1 000 hectares of land by reclamation. It expands the scope and capacity of Hong Kong’s development, providing land to meet the needs for housing, economic development and community facilities as well as enhancing Hong Kong’s competitiveness.
The replies to various parts of the Hon Gary Zhang questions are, as follows:
(1) In the process of designing the Artificial Islands, we have fully considered the risks of flooding and overtopping waves under extreme weather conditions and climate change. We set an appropriate site formation level for the Artificial Islands and designed adaptive and resilient coastal protection measures. We propose that the average site formation level of the Artificial Islands is 7.5 metres above the Principal Datum. In some of the locations exposed to the wind, the level is as high as 9m above the Principal Datum, which is at least 6m higher than the current mean sea level of Hong Kong. We also took a progressive adaptive approach to design coastal infrastructure facilities to provide sufficient flexibility and adaptability. We have designed some resilient capacity for the seawall so as to strengthen the ability of the Artificial Islands to cope with climate change, such as raising the height of seawalls or wave walls. The same progressive adaptive approach is also adopted in many countries or regions around the world, including New York of the United States, the United Kingdom and Singapore, etc. The above design strategy has been endorsed by the Expert Panel on Reclamation and Coastal Resilience comprised of independent experts formed for the Artificial Islands project.
In addition, arrangements have been made on the planning and design fronts. Along the coastline, there is a promenade of 20 to 30m wide, which not only provides recreational facilities for the enjoyment of the public, but also serves as a buffer zone in extreme weather conditions to reduce the possible impact brought by severe weather.
(2) We conducted a preliminary traffic impact assessment based on the major development parameters of the Artificial Islands, including population and employment, road capacity, etc. The assessment results reveal that the proposed connecting roads of the Artificial Islands to Hong Kong Island and to other areas via Lantau Island will be sufficient to cope with the traffic flow generated by the entire development of the Artificial Islands.
(3) According to the final report of the “Hong Kong 2030+: Towards a Planning Vision and Strategy Transcending 2030" (Hong Kong 2030+), the overall land demand in Hong Kong from 2019 to 2048 is about 5 800 to 6 200ha. Excluding the 3 200ha from projects taken forward or at a relatively advanced stage, Hong Kong will still be short of about 2 600 to 3 000ha of land. The "Hong Kong 2030+" also points out that, under the multi-pronged and capacity creating approach, on top of the 3 200ha of land the Government has identified a series of land supply projects which can bring about an additional supply of about 4 100ha of land in the medium to long term, including the 1 000ha from the Artificial Islands. In other words, the total land supply between 2019 and 2048 is approximately 7 300ha, which is 1 000ha more than the upper limit of land demand of 6 200ha, facilitating the establishment of a land reserve in Hong Kong in the long run. "Hong Kong 2030+" was promulgated in October 2021, which was not long ago, and the land supply and demand estimates in the report is a long-term projection spanning a period of 30 years. Therefore, the relevant estimates should not be affected by short-term conditions and should still be applicable.
(4) The Artificial Islands will provide 1 000ha of land, of which 300ha have been included as one of the supply sources for the forecast of 3 280ha of developable land in the coming ten years. We will take forward the development of the Artificial Islands based on the infrastructure-led concept. According to the preliminary broad land use concept, the viaduct and tunnel of the "Hong Kong Island West – Northeast Lantau Link" will be located at Island C. The basic infrastructure facilities supporting the development of the Artificial Islands will also be located at Island C. Besides, the third Central Business District, which is the future development engine of Hong Kong and the hub connecting Hong Kong Island by railway, will be located in the northern part of Island A. In view of the above, Island C and the northern part of Island A will be included in the scope of the first phase of reclamation. We will draw up the details of the implementation schedule for the first phase of reclamation and review the implementation time for the remaining parts of the Artificial Islands during the detailed design stage.
(5) On December 29 last year, the Civil Engineering and Development Department and the Planning Department made an interim report to Members of the Panel on Development of the Legislative Council regarding the preliminary proposals for four aspects of the Artificial Islands (including the reclamation extent, broad land use, strategic transport infrastructure and possible financing options). The study team then launched the public engagement activities of this stage.
As at March 31, 2023, under this stage of public engagement activities, we have organised more than 30 briefing sessions and conducted exhibitions in various locations including City Gallery, Tung Chung Community Liaison Centre, Central and Western District, Islands District, Yuen Long District, Tuen Mun District and Tsuen Wan District. Relevant information was provided through the thematic webpage of the project.
We collected public comments through various channels, including exhibition venues, online comment forms, emails, telephone calls, fax and post. We are collating and preliminarily summarising the comments received during this stage of public engagement activities with a view to sharing them with the public this month.
(6) The current proposed alignment of the strategic railway for the Artificial Islands will connect Hong Kong Island West to Hung Shui Kiu in the Northern Metropolis so as to enhance connection with the planned Hong Kong – Shenzhen Western Rail Link. It strengthens the connections among the Harbour Metropolis (including the Artificial Islands), the Northern Metropolis and the Greater Bay Area cities and the connectivity of Hong Kong rail network.
For the section of the railway from Tuen Mun East to Tuen Mun West, as it is related to the planning for Lung Kwu Tan and the re-planning of Tuen Mun West area, the Government plans to include this section of the railway in the project "Planning and engineering study for Lung Kwu Tan reclamation and the re-planning of Tuen Mun West Area" launched this year. We consulted the Panel on Development of the Legislative Council on the above-mentioned study on February 28 this year. Members expressed their support for recommending the relevant funding proposals to the Public Works Subcommittee for consideration. The Tuen Mun East Station proposed under the strategic railway for the Artificial Islands will reserve connection to the said section of railway for future connection with that section of railway.
(7) We are carrying out relevant work on the environmental impact assessment study for the reclamation works that the Artificial Islands involves in accordance with the requirements of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Ordinance and the EIA Study Brief. We will also recommend appropriate measures to minimise the possible impact of the reclamation works on the environment and propose appropriate mitigation measures.
While planning the Artificial Islands, we have fully considered measures to avoid or minimise the impact on the environment. For example, the Artificial Islands will be separated by water channels to avoid direct impacts on coral communities along the shoreline during reclamation. The proposed water channels can maintain appropriate level of water flows of the waters nearby, preventing adverse impacts on the water quality and the ecosystem.
We will also study the use of "deep cement mixing method" to effectively reduce the impact on marine ecology. Compared with the traditional dredging method of reclamation, the new technology does not need to remove or transport away the marine mud and thus reduces the generation of suspended particles in the water. It will also greatly reduce the need for sea transportation.
In addition, we will make use of inert construction and demolition materials (i.e. public fill) generated by local projects as key fill material for the reclamation works of the Artificial Islands in order to achieve the objectives of "reduce, reuse and recycle".
Ends/Wednesday, April 19, 2023
Issued at HKT 15:52