A comprehensive study to increase land supply by reclamation outside Victoria Harbour and rock cavern development will start in July this year.
"This initiative to provide land to meet Hong Kong's social and economic needs in the long run is mentioned by the Financial Secretary in his 2011-12 Budget Speech," a spokesman for the Development Bureau said.
The Permanent Secretary for Development (Works), Mr Wai Chi-sing, said at a press conference today (May 17) that to meet the land demand for economic development, public facilities and housing, the Government would continue with the work on supplying land through developments and redevelopments in the Metro Area, further development of the Tseung Kwan O and Tung Chung New Towns and implementing new development areas in the northern New Territories.
"However, Government also needs to explore new ways to provide land to meet Hong Kong's social and economic needs in the long run. Two possible ways are reclamation on an appropriate scale outside the Victoria Harbour and rock cavern development," Mr Wai said.
He pointed out that reclamation had long been a well-established means to generate more land to serve Hong Kong's social and economic needs. About 500 to 700 hectares of land was created by reclamation every five years from 1985 to 2004. Reclamation substantially declined to 84 hectares only in the period 2005 to 2009, which will have knock-on effect on land supply for housing and other uses in the coming years.
"We are in full agreement with relevant concern groups and many people in society that there should be no more reclamation within the Victoria Harbour – Hong Kong's most important natural heritage. Our efforts in recent years are to enhance and beautify the harbourfront for public enjoyment. But it is necessary to resume land production by reclamation of an appropriate scale outside the Victoria Harbour so as to provide land to sustain the social and economic development of Hong Kong in the long run," he said.
"Apart from creating new land, reclamation can also resolve the problems of handling surplus public fill and contaminated sediments. There is some urgency to resume reclamation for such purposes as the remaining capacity to handle surplus public fill in the fill banks and contaminated sediments in the mud pits will soon be running out," Mr Wai added.
The Director of Civil Engineering and Development, Mr Hon Chi-keung, said at the press conference that the hilly areas in the urban fringes of Hong Kong with strong rocks and convenient access were particularly suitable for rock cavern development.
"According to the findings of the Study on the Enhanced Use of Underground Space in Hong Kong completed by Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD), Hong Kong is particularly suitable for developing rock caverns from the geological perspective. By reprovisioning suitable government facilities inside caverns and releasing the original land as well as the adjacent sterilised land for housing and other uses, cavern development is a viable option to increase land supply," he said.
CEDD has conducted preliminary technical and financial assessments for relocating Sha Tin Sewage Treatment Works, Mount Davis and Kennedy Town Fresh Water Service Reservoirs, and Mui Wo Sewage Treatment Works and Refuse Transfer Station to caverns. The executive summary of the study is available at CEDD’s website (http://www.cedd.gov.hk/) for public reference.
The Government will shortly arrange briefings to the Panel on Development of the Legislative Council, the Town Planning Board, District Councils and other statutory and professional organisations on the initiative of increasing land supply by reclamation and rock cavern development.
The first stage of the public engagement exercise, to be launched in the fourth quarter of 2011, will include a wide range of activities such as roving exhibitions, focus group discussions, public forums and consultation with stakeholders, with a view to building general consensus on the initiative.
Public views collected will then be analysed before embarking on the second stage of public engagement, which aims to look at the feasibility of possible sites for reclamation and rock cavern development.
In the longer term, the Government will formulate a list of environmentally acceptable and engineering-feasible sites for reclamation for implementation in stages to meet future development needs. For cavern development, a long-term strategic plan for systematic relocation of suitable above-ground facilities to caverns to release surface land for other uses will be developed.
Ends/Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Issued at HKT 17:21
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