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Lantau residents fly banners protesting ELM proposal

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A group of residents has taken to beaches across Lantau in recent weeks to protest against the proposed East Lantau Metropolis (ELM).

The group displayed a prominent yellow banner which read “Oppose the East Lantau Metropolis” on Silvermine Bay beach on Sunday October 21, and on Nim Shue Wan beach on Sunday October 28.

The notion of reclaiming land off the east coast of Lantau was initially proposed as one of several solutions to the city’s immense housing crisis. The initial proposal was to reclaim 1,100 hectares of land, however in her October 10 Policy Address, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor unveiled a new land reclamation project that would see the islands of Peng Chau, Hei Ling Chau and Kau Yi Chau joined through a 1,700 hectare development intended to provide public housing for 1.1 million Hongkongers.

A number of protests have taken place around Hong Kong recently, calling into question Lam’s claim that her proposal has widespread support. On Sunday October 14, at least 5,800 protesters marched from Causeway Bay to the government offices in Tamar, and last Sunday other groups laid out banners similar to the ones on display on Lantau at beaches in Sai Wan and on Lamma Island.

Key areas of concern include the timeline of the ELM project and how quickly it will address the housing shortage, the estimated cost, the serious environmental damage the project could cause and why other less elaborate proposals from other government offices are not going ahead.

It remains to be seen what the government Lands Supply task force has found during their public consultation. A report, which will shed light on how popular the ELM proposal is with the public, is due to be published in December.

Photo: Protesters on Silvermine Bay Beach, October 2018

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