In Search of Suitable Reclamation Sites
The main concerns about reclamation are its impact on coastal habitats, marine ecology (for example, the Chinese White Dolphin and the habitat for coral), fisheries resources, port operations, marine and land traffic, and the local communities (including those living in waterfront developments). Hence, the Government has taken impact on the environment and the local communities as major site selection criteria when contemplating substantial new reclamation project.
Between 2011 and 2014, the Government conducted a study titled "Enhancing Land Supply Strategy – Reclamation outside Victoria Harbour and Rock Cavern Development" (ELSS). This included a citywide search to identify potential reclamation sites, and a two-stage public engagement (PE) exercise. The results of the Stage 1 PE revealed that there was broad support for a six-pronged approach
Include resumption of land in rural areas, urban renewal, change of land use, reuse of quarry sites, development of caverns and reclamation.
to increasing land supply, which included reclamation. The public generally agreed on the site selection criteria for reclamation, with the impacts on the environment and the local community regarded as the most important criteria. There was also consensus that more land would be required to meet housing needs, improve people's living environment, enable infrastructural development, and support the building of a land reserve.
Based on the above criteria and the results of broad technical assessments, including environmental impact assessments, the Government has selected several potential reclamation locations outside Victoria Harbour. Five of these are near-shore sites at Lung Kwu Tan in Tuen Mun, Siu Ho Wan and Sunny Bay in North Lantau, Ma Liu Shui in Sha Tin, and Tsing Yi Southwest. In addition, the exercise has identified the potential for developing artificial islands in the Central Waters between Lantau and Hong Kong Island. Collectively, they are known as the "5 plus 1" reclamation sites. They were made known during the Stage 2 PE of ELSS; public views on individual sites were collected for further consideration.
On the other hand, there are suggestions for other reclamation locations outside Victoria Harbour from individuals or organisations, e.g. Castle Peak Bay of Tuen Mun and Tseung Kwan O.
Benefits of Development
Reclamation can generate a large piece of new land with greater flexibility for comprehensive planning of a new community. In particular, reclamation can create smart, green and resilient development. In developed areas, newly reclaimed land can provide expansion space for a new town nearby, e.g. Tung Chung New Town Extension.
For relatively remote locations, the new land can be used as relocation sites to accommodate facilities affected by other land supply options, and provide space for moving special industrial or "Not-in-My-Backyard" facilities away from the urban areas.
Reclamation at Lung Kwu Tan ( ①in the map below), located at the west tip of Tuen Mun, is expected to provide developable land of about 220 to 250 ha for industrial and other uses, including special industries. Through consolidating and enhancing facilities, this can help rationalise the activities of existing brownfield areas.
Reclamation at Siu Ho Wan ( ②in the map below) on North Lantau is expected to provide developable land of about 60 to 80 ha for residential and education facilities.
Sunny Bay ( ③in the map below) on North Lantau, with proximity to the Hong Kong International Airport, is easily accessible to tourist spots on Lantau such as the Hong Kong Disneyland through connection to the North Lantau Highway and existing railway network. It is expected that Sunny Bay reclamation can provide about 60 to 100 ha of developable land. This project is positioned as a "North-East Lantau tourism gateway", planned for developing into a leisure, sports, recreation, entertainment and tourism hub.
Tsing Yi Southwest reclamation ( ④in the map below) is subject to review (including the size of reclamation and usage of land) as the site is close to a number of potentially hazardous facilities including industrial facilities and oil tanks. The proposed site is more suitable for port facilities according to planning at this stage.
In an area with good transport and railway network connections and close to Hong Kong Science Park and the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the Ma Liu Shui reclamation ( ⑤in the map below) is expected to provide developable land of about 60 ha for high technology and knowledge- based industries, housing and other uses.
The Lung Kwu Tan reclamation is expected to provide developable land of about 220 to 250 ha for industrial and other uses.
The Ma Liu Shui reclamation is expected to provide developable land of around 60 ha
for high technology and knowledge based industries, housing and other uses.
The Sunny Bay reclamation is expected to provide about 60 to 100 ha
of developable land for developing into a leisure, sports, recreational, entertainment and tourism hub.
The Siu Ho Wan reclamation is expected to provide developable land of about 60 to 80 ha for residential and education facilities.
The proposed artificial islands in the Central Water are expected to provide more than 1,000 ha of developable land.
Unlike other land supply options, reclamation does not have a major impact on existing land use, and generally does not require private land resumption or household resettlements. In addition, reclamation is a means for building land reserves to meet the ever-changing needs of society
Reclamation is also an ideal outlet for handling locally-generated public fill.
Among the "5 plus 1" potential sites, the proposed artificial islands in the Central Waters can provide the greatest area of developable land with an area of about 1,000 ha; they can also avoid shorelines with high ecological value. The new land can be used for holistic land use planning and design for housing, commercial and industrial purposes. This also matches the innovative concepts of urban planning and design under the "Hong Kong 2030+", which advocates the development of a smart, liveable and low-carbon "East Lantau Metropolis" (ELM). Based on initial estimates, the ELM can accommodate a population of 400,000 to 700,000 and provide about 200,000 employment opportunities.
- The artificial islands in the Central Waters can provide sizeable flat land at a strategic location between Lantau and Hong Kong Island for the development of the ELM, including a new town and a Central Business District (CBD), to improve the spatial distribution of homes and jobs in Hong Kong.
- The construction of new connecting transport infrastructure also offers an opportunity to enhance transport connectivity between the urban areas, Lantau and the western NT, including constructing the Northwest NT - Lantau - Metropolis Corridor as proposed in the "Hong Kong 2030+" study. It also provides an alternative transport link to the Hong Kong International Airport. In addition, it will strengthen transport connections from the established CBD to the Pearl River Delta east and west, bringing significant social and economic benefits to the whole society.
- The development of the ELM together with the other near-shore reclamations along the northern coast of Lantau Island is therefore of strategic importance to the future development of Hong Kong, as set out in the "Sustainable Lantau Blueprint".
- In addition, some suggest that the possibility of constructing artificial islands in the south of the Central Waters, in particular the southern water of Cheung Chau, can be considered. The Government plans to explore such possibility in the study on Central Waters artificial island.
Costs of Development
The cost of reclamation largely depends on the depth of water and area of development of the proposed site. Other costs include supporting infrastructural facilities (external connecting roads, water supply, sewage, flood control facilities, etc.); external transport infrastructure (in particular for artificial islands); compensation (including special allowances related to fishermen and marine fish farmers); and the expenses involved in relocating any existing facilities.
Reclamation projects usually require substantial capital investments. Past experience, however, shows that near-shore reclamation is a relatively cost-effective land supply option, in particular at those sites which are close to existing transport network and can enjoy the benefits of shared use of supporting infrastructure (such as water supply and sewage facilities) already in place in nearby developed areas.
Regarding artificial islands, since they are constructed in the Central Waters without any transport or infrastructural facilities, relatively heavier investments will be required. Nevertheless, the proposed artificial islands in the Central Waters can bring enormous socio-economic benefits to the whole community. The 1,000 ha reclaimed land can be used to build a new town and a CBD. The external transport facilities built in connection with this development can also strengthen the transport network connection between western NT, Lantau and the urban areas.
- Based on the results of technical studies, the development cost of reclamation and infrastructure facilities for the five near-shore projects is estimated to be approximately $15,000 to $25,000 per square meter, based on price levels as at September 2017.
- For the artificial islands in the Central Waters, where large-scale external transport infrastructure facilities are likely to be required, the estimated development cost will be above the high end of the budget for near-shore reclamation projects.
Reclamation may affect the marine ecology, fishery resources, port operations, sea transport and road transport in the vicinity. Hence, it is necessary to fully consider the above factors, conduct detailed technical studies and consult relevant stakeholders when drawing up the reclamation plan, and adopt appropriate measures to avoid or mitigate these effects.
Challenges and Uncertainties
During the reclamation period, fine particles and sediments from seabed released from or stirred up during offshore construction work will affect water quality. The Government adopts the most advanced and environmentally friendly reclamation methods for reclamation work where feasible and practicable, such as non-dredged seawall design, and will actively explore the setup of "eco-shoreline".
- The "eco-shoreline" concept uses the waterways or artificial shorelines to plant mangroves, build mud flats and create artificial wetlands, so as to enhance bio-diversity in the waters nearby. It can provide a natural environment along the shorelines for the public to enjoy.
- The Government will also study appropriate locations for laying artificial reefs, in order to enhance biological habitats in the sea and boost fishery resources.
Inevitably, some fishery activities and operations near reclamation sites may be limited or constrained by the construction work. For engineering design and environmental impact assessment stages in the future, the Government will optimise design and construction options, and propose appropriate mitigation and compensation measures, to lessen the impact that may arise from reclamation on fish culture areas and fishery industries nearby.
The Government has conducted Strategic Environmental Assessments and Cumulative Environmental Impact Assessments for selected reclamation sites, and looked into possible mitigating measures. Among them, the bio-sensitivity of the Central Waters is lower than that of other nearby waters, rendering it more suitable for large-scale reclamation development. However, reclaiming land in the Central Waters could potentially impact the water quality, bio-sensitive receptors and fisheries nearby; these include coral groups, the Dibamus bogadeki lizard, the white-bellied sea eagle, finless porpoises and fish culture zones. The connecting transport infrastructure such as bridges and tunnels may also impact water flow and quality. The coastline of Kau Yi Chau is a growing site for coral reefs. During the development period, consideration can be given to relocating the coral reefs to other appropriate locations as a mitigation measure to compensate for the loss of coral communities.
Reclamation projects take a long lead time from initial planning to realisation. To reclaim a sizeable piece of land, it is necessary to carry out feasibility, planning and engineering studies that involve several rounds of public engagement. Coupled with other statutory and necessary procedures, and the detailed design and construction work, the process would normally take a decade or more to complete.
This figure only shows a typical programme of a reclamation project. The actual time required may vary depending on the project complexities and circumstances.
- Reclamation has long been an important source of land supply. Among the nine existing new towns in Hong Kong, six of them, namely Tsuen Wan, Sha Tin, Tuen Mun, Tai Po, Tseung Kwan O and Tung Chung, were largely built largely on reclaimed land. However, large-scale reclamation has virtually come to a halt for more than 10 years, leading to the land shortage today.
- Reclamation can generate a large piece of new land for comprehensive planning of a new community to better meet the daily needs of Hong Kong citizens. Reclamation can also provide space for relocating special industrial or other facilities that have to be moved away from downtown areas; this will in turn release land in urban areas for other purposes.
- Unlike other land supply options, reclamation does not have a major impact on existing land uses and generally does not require private land resumption or household resettlements. In addition, the new reclamation methods can minimise the impact on water quality and ecology nearby.
- To carry out a reclamation project, it is necessary to conduct feasibility and planning studies, as well as going through other statutory procedures. The entire process normally takes a decade or more to complete. The studies should also take into consideration the impact on the marine ecosystem, so that suitable measures can be taken to meet the requirements of relevant statutory procedures.
Near-shore Reclamation Outside Victoria Harbour
Developing the East Lantau Metropolis