填海向來是香港開發土地的主要途徑。過去香港填海土地面積總計約達7,000公頃，佔已發展土地面積的26%，但近10多年來本地填海工程近乎停頓，正正是造成目前土地供應嚴重短缺的主要原因。香港的土地問題糾結了錯綜複雜的利益，開發土地雖是發展經濟、改善民生的重要條件，但長期遭到重重阻力。填海的好處，是新增土地可以由政府完全支配，無須跟原有持份者作長時間的討價還價，涉及的利益糾紛和法律爭拗較少。因此，政府落實短中期的開發土地選項，亦要加快東大嶼填海計劃的前期研究，以便從根本上解決土地不足的困境。 （標題為編輯所加） （摘錄自香港《文匯報》社評21-2-2019）
“Proceed from the easy to the difficult” to tackle land shortage
【譯文】The government has decided to fully endorse the eight prioritised options on land supply recommended by the report of the Task Force on Land Supply. These options include developing brownfield sites, tapping into private agricultural land reserve in the New Territories and exploring alternative uses of sites under private recreational leases, including the development of the 32-hectare portion of the Fanling Golf Course. Research and implementation of all eight options will be conducted concurrently. The main purpose of the Task Force on Land Supply is to build consensus and find viable options in land creation, yet it is undeniable that each of the eight prioritised options recommended by the Task Force has different levels of technical difficulty. The authorities should proceed from the easy to the difficult, and at the same time gather resources for the long-term solution to land shortage, that is the development of the East Lantau Metropolis.
Having collected public views through various channels in a methodical manner, the Task Force tendered a series of recommendations to the government that comprises of three short- to medium-term options (namely "developing brownfield sites", "tapping into private agricultural land reserve in the New Territories" and "alternative uses of sites under private recreational leases") and five medium- to long-term options (namely "near-shore reclamation outside Victoria Harbour", "developing the East Lantau Metropolis", "developing caverns and underground space", "more new development areas in the New Territories" and "developing the River Trade Terminal site"). The eight options could provide 3,000 hectares of land in total.
The full endorsement on the eight options of course shows that our government respects public opinions, but one cannot underestimate how difficult it would be for the authorities to implement these recommendations. Let us take the short- to medium-term options as examples. Despite public support, the partial requisition of the Fanling Golf Course would be extremely time-consuming due to the presence of historic buildings and old and valuable trees.
Similarly, the development of private agricultural land reserve in the New Territories would not be easy, as a transparent, fair and impartial mechanism must be in place first, in order to avoid accusations of corporate-government collusion. As for the 760 hectares of brownfield sites scattered all across the New Territories, progress could be hampered by numerous legal challenges and judicial reviews, as the government has to deal with the difficult and controversial process of compensation and relocation. It is obvious that the implementation of these three short-term options are easier said than done. If they were to be implemented at the same time, the government must be determined and prepared for all the challenges ahead.
Therefore, the government should accord priority to options that are both easier to implement and more efficient. It will not only ease the urgent need for land supply, but also expand the land reserve to meet the long-term needs of the public's livelihood and economic development. The three short-to-medium-term options listed by the Task Force, when combined, can only provide 320 hectares of land. According to the government estimates, this is still far from sufficient when compared to the projected shortage of at least 815 hectares.
Our Hong Kong Foundation projects that 9,350 hectares of new land would be needed to accommodate demand in the next 30 years. According to the government's "Hong Kong 2030+" study however, only 5,300 hectares of land can be provided by 2030. It means that there will be a shortfall of 4,000 hectares. Reclamation should be the most viable option on the table, as it can provide new land in a large scale without affecting too many stakeholders.
Reclamation has long been an important source of land supply for Hong Kong. As of today, about 7,000 hectares of land in Hong Kong had been formed by reclamation, representing 26% of the city's developed area.
However, reclamation has virtually come to a halt for more than 10 years, leading to the land shortage today. The problem of land shortage in Hong Kong is a complicated matter that involves multiple vested interests. Although land creation is vital to the improvement of people's livelihood and economic development, it has been met with heavy resistance for a long time already. One of the advantages of reclamation is that the newly obtained land would be directly under government control, thus avoiding all the difficulties involved in private land resumption. Therefore, apart from implementing the short-to-mid term land development options, the government should also accelerate the preliminary study of the East Lantau Metropolis in order to solve the problem of land shortage once and for all.■Jeffrey Tse (email@example.com)
1. vested interest
2. small house
3. indigenous villager
4. land resumption