Is Hong Kong Set to Build the World’s Largest Artificial Islands?

By Tristin Zhang, March 28, 2019

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A 1,000-hectare land reclamation project in Hong Kong has recently come under attack

Lantou Tomorrow Vision, a massive artificial island development to be located in the waters to the east of Lantou Island, is expected to be the world’s largest artificial island project. According to the Guardian, work on the project is scheduled to start in 2025; however, critics argue the development may do more harm than good to the metropolis, which was recently named one of the world’s most expensive cities. Environmentalists have also weighed in, arguing that there are cheaper solutions to the issue of land shortage that would also be less detrimental to the environment.

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An artifical island in Qatar. Image via Pixabay

The plan to create artificial islands, initially put forward in a 2014 Hong Kong government policy address, is estimated to cost RMB534 million according to Secretary for Development Michael Wong Wai-lun, who spoke at a press conference on March 19. The proposed budget for this massive undertaking is said to equal half of Hong Kong’s financial reserves, which could put the Special Administrative Region in shallow waters if the project suffers setbacks. The government plans to recoup the costs of the Lantau project from revenue gained by selling the reclaimed land to developers.

According to Wong, the Lantou Tomorrow Vision project is expected to result in the construction of 150,000 to 260,000 new housing units, 70 percent of which will be available for public housing. Once completed, these buildings will house anywhere from 700,000 to one million people, and the project is being billed as a way to relieve the population density in downtown Hong Kong and allow the SAR to be a more livable city, Wong added. 

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Proposed transport plan for Lantau Tomorrow Vision. Image via Lantau Government Website

He also pointed out that by 2046 there will be 326,000 private homes in Hong Kong that will be 70 years old or older, and that the artificial islands could provide replacement housing for citizens whose apartments need to be rebuilt or renovated.

About four million square meters of land on the artificial islands will be developed into a commercial district, which is expected to create 200,000 jobs. Economists hired by the Hong Kong government estimated annual revenue produced on the artificial islands could reach HKD141 billion. 

Also in the government’s plan is a new transport network linking Hong Kong Island, Lantou and the future artificial islands, which will cost HKD273 billion, according to South China Morning Post.

“Usually we do not reveal cost estimates before we conduct studies for a project,” Wong said at a press conference. “But the public is concerned that the project might empty our coffers. Our conclusion is clear: it will not.” 

But critics warned that the city’s economy might be crippled by the huge cost of the project. Greenpeace and World Wildlife Fund argue it’s cheaper and more reasonable to first build on over 1,200 hectares of brownfield land – previously developed land that is not currently in use. 

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Image via Wikimedia

An even more pressing issue is the rapid demise of the Chinese white dolphin population. Between April 2017 and March 2018, only 47 Chinese white dolphins were sighted, according to a government report, which was released by Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department. 

READ MORE: Hong Kong Considered World's Most Expensive City

[Cover image via Pixabay]

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