Review on Central Reclamation III completed



The Government has completed the review on the Central Reclamation III (CRIII) based on the three tests laid down in the High Court Judgment on Wan Chai Development II (WDII).


The review examines the purpose and extent of the individual components of the CRIII reclamation and concludes that the CRIII works meet the three tests: (a) Compelling, Overriding and Present Need, (b) No Viable Alternative, and (c) Minimum Impairment to the Harbour, a spokesman for the Housing, Planning and Lands Bureau (HPLB) said today (December 5).


The review's main findings are briefly summarized as follows:-


(a) Compelling, Overriding and Present Need


The CRIII is needed to provide land for essential transport infrastructure including the Central Wan Chai Bypass (CWB) and roads connecting CRI and II (the Road P2 network).


At present, the Connaught Road Central/Harcourt Road/Gloucester Road corridor is operating over its capacity and there is regular traffic congestion during the peak hours. CWB is a strategic road linking the Rumsey Street Flyover with the Island Eastern Corridor via the Island Eastern Corridor Link. In a recent re-run of the Third Comprehensive Transport Study transport model completed in 2003, the results indicate that the demand for the CWB remains firm, despite updates in land use planning assumptions and the reduced population projections of the territory. The Road P2 network is also fully justified to cope with the growing traffic within the completed CRI and II.


The Review has re-confirmed that there is a compelling, overriding and present need to build CWB and related roads in order to bring urgent relief to the traffic congestion in Central and Wan Chai. The traffic problem will deteriorate if the roads are not ready in time to meet the demand as well as the needs arising from new development in Central's waterfront area.


(b) No Viable Alternative


The Territory Development Department has explored various alternatives such as building the CWB in the form of an elevated structure, an at-grade road, or a bored or submerged tube tunnel to avoid reclamation. None of them are considered viable, owing to various technical reasons (e.g. the presence of existing developments and existing underground facilities or adverse impact on existing traffic network) as well as concerns over the adverse impacts on the environment and urban planning arising from these alternatives (e.g. air pollutants, noise and visual impact in the case of the at-grade or elevated options).


It is concluded that building CWB beyond the current Central shoreline through reclamation is considered the only viable option.


As reclamation is the only viable option, the existing piers and sea-water cooling water pumping stations along the current shoreline will need to be reprovisioned along the new harbour-front. Otherwise, the ferry services will have to be terminated and the buildings currently served by the pumping stations will have to be modified in order to be served by other cooling facilities or otherwise will have no cooling facilities. However, none of the alternatives for the sea water cooling system are considered viable at this stage because no extra space is available within the existing buildings to house new system and some of the alternative system is environmentally unfriendly.


(c) Minimum Impairment to the Harbour


The Review concludes that the existing CRIII project has already kept impairment to the Harbour to the minimum. The shoreline will move slightly northward as a result of the construction of CWB. The Star Ferry piers, Queen's Pier, various public landing steps and the groups of cooling water pumping stations serving major offices and commercial buildings in Central have to be reprovisioned along the future Central shoreline. After extensive discussion and consultation with the parties concerned, we have come up with the current configuration which is acceptable to all and which would cause the minimum impairment to the Harbour.


"The Review findings have been endorsed by Professor Y S Li, the Head of Department of Civil and Structural Engineering, and the Chair Professor of Coastal and Environmental Engineering at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University," the spokesman continued.


"Professor Li confirms that in his view, the analysis as presented in the Review Report has convincingly demonstrated that the CRIII reclamation can comply with the three tests laid down in Madam Justice Chu's Judgment.


"He also confirms that CRIII is a necessary continuation of the early and completed phases of the Central and Wan Chai reclamations, namely the CRI, CRII and Wan Chai Reclamation I, and that apart from the proposed construction of the key infrastructure in Central, namely the CWB, Airport Railway Extended Overrun Tunnel and Road P2 network, the CRIII reclamation can enhance the tidal flow and water quality in the Victoria Harbour by eliminating a zone of rather stagnant water," the spokesman said.


The Review Report has been submitted to the Legislative Council Panels on Planning, Lands and Works, and Environmental Affairs for members' information and reference.


"The full report has been uploaded onto the CRIII website at to keep the community better informed of the CRIII project," he added.


Ends/Friday, December 5, 2003