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Hong Kong environmentalists unfurl protest banner on Kau Yi Chau against plan for 'East Lantau Metropolis'

Activists from nine groups unfurled a yellow protest banner on the rocky shores of Kau Yi Chau on Sunday to protest against a government plan to reclaim land around the island for a large new town dubbed East Lantau Metropolis.

The giant banner, sprawled with the words “Oppose the East Lantau Metropolis project” and measuring three by 40 metres, was erected on the rocky outcrop for an hour before the activists took it down themselves.

The protest comes ahead of this Wednesday’s meeting of the Legislative Council public works subcommittee, which will deliberate on the Development Bureau’s HK$248.7 million proposal to undertake strategic studies for the development of artificial islands in the city’s central waters.

The missing links for East Lantau Metropolis

Roy Ng Hei-man, of the Conservancy Association, said officials had failed to properly discuss the plan with the public and had even withheld information after it was revealed the government had already completed a “secret” scale mock-up of its Lantau development plan that included the reclaimed islands.

Activists believe the project will have a significant impact on the environment and on traffic while providing few of its purported economic benefits.

“The government should not be asking for funding for research for the project when the consultation did not even fully involve the Hong Kong people,” Ng said. “We demand the entire project be halted.”

The secret mock-up, reported to have cost at least HK$200,000, was presented to state leader Zhang Dejiang during a high-profile visit to the SAR last month. The model was never revealed to the public during a three-month consultation, which only featured a diagram outlining the rough location of the proposed town.

East Lantau Metropolis seems like ‘flight of fancy’ to some

Development chief Paul Chan Mo-po said the model was only a conceptual one and not the final proposal.

Eddie Tse Sai-kit of the Save Lantau Alliance said the man-made island would be equivalent in size to two airport islands and cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars each down the generations.

The Development Bureau said the strategic studies would help “ascertain the preliminary engineering feasibility and evaluate cost-effectiveness and environmental implications of the artificial

islands”.

The bureau also said it would carry out “holistic” assessments in the study on various potential impacts of the islands including on water flow, marine ecology, fisheries, port operations, marine traffic and safety.

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