Following is a question by the Hon Jeffrey Lam and a reply by the Secretary for Development, Mr Paul Chan, in the Legislative Council today (October 14):
It has been reported that the Government is currently carrying out studies on the development of Lantau Island and the formation of artificial islands with a reclamation area of about 600 to 800 hectares in the central waters between Lantau Island and Hong Kong Island for the development of an East Lantau Metropolis, i.e. the third core business district of Hong Kong. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council of:
(1) the land planning details of the artificial islands, and the job opportunities to be provided upon the completion of the third core business district;
(2) the transport infrastructure projects (including roads and railways) to be implemented to connect Hong Kong Island, Lantau Island, New Territories West and the artificial islands; and
(3) the respective percentages of green areas, commercial and residential areas in the existing planned land sites on Lantau Island; whether it has plans to increase the residential land area of Lantau Island for the construction of more residential units; if it does, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
To match with the long-term social and economic development of Hong Kong, the Chief Executive announced in the 2014 Policy Address to explore ways to develop the eastern waters off Lantau Island and neighbouring areas with a view to developing an East Lantau Metropolis (ELM) for accommodating new population. It will become the third core business district of Hong Kong for promoting economic development and providing job opportunities. At the same time, it was also decided to establish the Lantau Development Advisory Committee (LanDAC) to draw up the development strategy for Lantau. After nearly two years of work, the LanDAC has drafted a set of "Overall Spatial Planning and Conservation Concepts for Lantau" which include the proposals to carry out reclamation in the waters near Kau Yi Chau and Hei Ling Chau Typhoon Shelter and to enhance the development potential of Mui Wo, with a view to creating a smart, innovative, environmentally-friendly and diversified ELM.
My reply to the three parts of Hon Lam's question is as follows:
(1) The proposed ELM is still at a preliminary conceptual stage. Since it would involve large-scale reclamation and substantial infrastructural works and investment, the proposal must be carefully considered. As funding could not be secured in the last legislative session, the strategic study concerned was unable to commence. The Government will re-apply funding from the Legislative Council for commissioning the study concerned to investigate the feasibility of constructing artificial islands and the scale of the development. According to initial analysis and making reference to the scale of existing new towns, we preliminarily estimate that the ELM may have potential to accommodate a population of about 400,000 to 700,000 and provide a large amount of employment opportunities. Such amount of population and economic activities could create economies of scale and critical mass, leading to a diversified and vibrant new development area. Only very preliminary crude estimate of anticipated employment opportunities is available at the current stage. Should all the major development projects in Lantau be implemented, including the medium- to long-term items like the Tung Chung New Town Extension, airport North Commercial District, topside development at the Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities Island of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, Siu Ho Wan Reclamation, Sunny Bay Reclamation as well as the ELM, the number of jobs in Lantau will possibly increase from the current 94,000 to around 470,000. However, the above figure is only a preliminary estimate, the specific use, development scale, feasibility and implementation arrangement of the development projects still need further study.
(2) Since the ELM may accommodate several hundred thousands of living and working populations, it needs to be supported by a comprehensive strategic traffic and transport network. Our initial idea is to use railway as the backbone of the traffic and transportation network for the ELM, supplemented by a comprehensive road network. Apart from connecting the interior areas of the ELM, the proposed traffic and transport network would also connect the ELM with Lantau, northwest New Territories (NWNT), western Hong Kong Island and western Kowloon, forming a NWNT–Lantau–Metro Area traffic and transport corridor. However, the proposed railway and road networks are a very preliminary concept only, the initial feasibility, specific development scale and timeframe of which are still subject to investigation under the strategic study concerned. Also, depending on the actual need, a further feasibility study would be conducted before a decision can be made.
Lantau and the NWNT are the important nodes for Hong Kong's future population growth and economic development. The Tuen Mun New Town together with the future Hung Shui Kiu New Development Area and Yuen Long South Development will be the major population growth areas providing a large amount of workforce. On the other hand, the proposed Three-Runway System of the Airport and various strategic economic development projects in northern Lantau would add a large number of employment opportunities. Hence, the aforementioned traffic and transport corridor could attract working population outside Lantau (the NWNT in particular) to travel to Lantau to work. This could reduce the traffic demand by population in the New Territories to travel to the urban areas for work, thus improving the current imbalance in the population and jobs between the urban area and the New Territories.
(3) About 63.5 square kilometres of area on Lantau (excluding outlying islands and the Airport) is currently covered by statutory town plans (including part of the bay and water areas for proposed reclamation of individual projects). Among them, about 4.0 per cent and 0.04 per cent of land are zoned "Residential" and "Commercial" respectively while another 26.5 per cent of land is zoned "Green Belt". In addition, another 1.2 square kilometre of land on the Airport Island is zoned "Commercial" in the draft Chek Lap Kok Outline Zoning Plan, equivalent to about 5.6 per cent of the planning scheme boundary area of the subject plan. The future supply of residential land under planning is mainly about 70 hectares of private and public housing land as recommended under the Tung Chung New Town Extension Study, and the residential development atop the existing Siu Ho Wan Railway Depot being studied. In the long run, the proposed ELM would be one of the options of major sources of land supply in Hong Kong beyond 2030 providing the needed land for housing, social and economic developments.
Ends/Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Issued at HKT 15:58