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Chief Executive visits potential sites for reclamation and cavern development (with photos/videos)

     The Chief Executive, Mr Donald Tsang, took a helicopter ride today (June 9) to inspect potential land reclamation and rock cavern development sites. He also visited an existing cavern development site in Western district.

     Accompanied by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, the Chief Executive was given a bird's eye view of seven potential reclamation and two cavern sites across the territory. The potential reclamation sites are in Tuen Mun Area 27, Lung Kwu Tan, Tung Chung, Lantau Logistics Park, Sunny Bay, Penny's Bay and southwest Tsing Yi. The two potential cavern sites are in Sha Tin and Mount Davis.

     "Hong Kong needs to create land resources to cope with the demand for housing and development of various industries. However, our land is limited," Mr Tsang said.

     "Given rising public concern about nature and heritage conservation, urban development density and air ventilation, as well as problems associated with land resumption, compensation and clearance for development in the New Territories, it is crucial that we think outside the box in creating new land. Reclamation outside Victoria Harbour and rock cavern development are options worth considering."

     Mr Tsang noted that reclamation can also provide outlets for surplus public fill materials. It is a more environment-friendly, reliable and cost-effective means than disposing of fill materials in the Mainland.

     Reclamation has long been an effective means of generating land in Hong Kong, but reclaimed land has declined substantially following the enactment of the Protection of the Harbour Ordinance in 1997 and the Court of Final Appeal's ruling in 2004. Whereas about 120 hectares of land was reclaimed every year on average from 1985 to 2004 (excluding the reclaimed land in Chek Lap Kok and West Kowloon), the amount dropped to only one hectare last year.

     Since the Protection of the Harbour Ordinance is not applicable to sea areas outside Victoria Harbour, reclamation on an appropriate scale outside the Harbour is an option to be considered.

     Mr Tsang then visited a cavern which houses reservoirs at Pok Fu Lam to release land for the University of Hong Kong's Centennial Campus without the need for substantial slope cutting. He was impressed by the innovative concept behind the project.

     Hilly areas on the urban fringes of Hong Kong combining hard rock and convenient access are particularly suitable for rock cavern development. By relocating suitable government facilities into caverns, more land would be made available for housing and other uses.

     The Civil Engineering and Development Department will commission a consultancy study to identify about 20 suitable sites each for reclamation and cavern development next month. A wide range of public engagement activities will be launched in the third quarter of this year to gauge public opinion.

     "We will fully engage the public in the months ahead to forge a community consensus before we take forward these proposals," the Chief Executive said.

Ends/Thursday, June 9, 2011
Issued at HKT 18:14


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