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HK$624 billion cost announced for ELM project

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At a briefing on Tuesday, Secretary for Development Michael Wong Wai-lun announced that the estimated total cost for the “Lantau Tomorrow Vision,” also known as the East Lantau Metropolis (ELM), is around HK$624 billion. According to RTHK, this would make the ELM the largest infrastructure project in the city’s history.

The project was officially announced in Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s October policy address. It would involve reclaiming a total of 1,700 hectares of land around Lantau Island in order to address Hong Kong’s serious housing crisis.

In an article by the Standard, the development of the area around Kau Yi Chau, Hei Ling Chau and Peng Chau is to cost HK$256 billion: HK$140 billion in land reclamation and HK$116 for additional infrastructure. Land reclamation and infrastructure development around Sunny Bay, Lung Kwu Tan and Tuen Mun is estimated to cost up to HK$95 billion.

Officials justify these high costs by claiming that this will increase the quality of people’s lives by generating economic and social development. These benefits will come about from the 105,000 to 182,000 new residential blocks, and 200,000 job opportunities.

Development Secretary Michael Wong announced that the artificial island will be transformed into Hong Kong’s third business center, which will generate approximately HK$141 billion in yearly revenues.

The high cost of the project is fueling widespread controversy. Lawmaker Eddie Chu Hoi-dick argues that the budget is based on 2018 prices which have risen due to inflation. According to Chu, the total cost could exceed HK$1 trillion.

Others are also concerned about the environmental impact of the development, which will put further strain on Hong Kong’s aquatic life. In October, protests in Central and in the New Territories sought to challenge Lam’s assertion that the ELM Project has widespread support.

On Tuesday, Wong dismissed environmental concerns over climate change potentially leading to flooding on the artificial islands, by responding that the islands will be six to seven metres above sea level.

According to RTHK, Developers aim to begin the reclamation project by 2025 and have the first residential blocks finished by 2032.

Photo credits: Bloomberg


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