Hong Kong plans massive land reclamation

Lantau Port. Credit: Martina Li

The Hong Kong government has plans for a massive land reclamation scheme, under the Lantau Tomorrow Vision plan that was announced in February.

The scheme involves reclaiming 1,000 hectares of land to build a chain of artificial islands, to be called Kau Yi Chau, off Lantau. The largest of Hong Kong’s islands, Lantau lies at the mouth of Pearl River. The territory’s government hopes that reclaiming land will solve the land shortage that is key to alleviating the lack of housing.

The entire Lantau Tomorrow Vision plan is estimated to cost HKD624 billion (USD79 billion), of which HKD44.7 billion (USD5.7 billion) will go towards land reclamation. The proposed Lantau areas for the land reclamation are around Sunny Bay, Lung Kwu Tan and the Tuen Mun coastal areas.

Authorities expect up to 260,000 flats to be built on the artificial islands, with 70% of the flats to be set aside for public housing. If the Legislative Council approves the large budget, reclamation work is scheduled to start in 2025 and the first residents are expected to move in by 2032.

Responding to criticism over the substantial cost, Secretary for Development Michael Wong, said: “This is a preliminary estimate. We’ve explained why. The detailed estimate will be subject to the coming studies, so it can be revised upwards or downwards.”

The budget makes Lantau Tomorrow Vision Hong Kong’s most expensive infrastructure project to date. Wong added that these projects will bring benefits to Hong Kong, including direct economic contributions and social benefits. He said: “This is a good investment, this is good for Hong Kong, this resolves many of our problems.”

Wong brushed off concerns that the price tag would deplete more than half of Hong Kong’s fiscal reserves, which are estimated to stand at HKD1.16 trillion (USD150 billion).

Justifying the cost, Wong pointed to the Institute of Surveyors’ conservative estimate that the potential land revenue from the artificial islands ranges between HKD974 billion (USD124 billion) and HKD1.143 trillion (USD146 billion).