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September, 2015:

Hong Kong recyclers ‘need more manpower, not machines’ from government’s HK$1b Recycling Fund, industry insiders say

Ernest Kao

Government fund that will subsidise equipment would be better spent on improving collecting and sorting among workers, insiders say

A provision in the government’s new HK$1 billion Recycling Fund that allows recyclers to receive subsidies for new equipment should be reworked to help street collectors find and sort materials instead, industry insiders say.

Falling oil prices and a slump in the regional economy have seen the prices fetched for waste plastic fall to virtually nothing, and street recyclers have stopped collecting it in the past few months.

“We have the capacity to process 40 tonnes per day, but now, we only receive just two or three tonnes,” said Jacky Lau Yiu-shing, director of the Recycled Materials and Reproduction Business General Association, whose organisation buys materials from recyclers for export.

Lau said because there was no money to be made, more plastic was destined for landfills.

Allowing recyclers to set targets on how much plastic to collect and offering funds to increase manpower would be more helpful, he said, since sorting recyclables is the most costly part of the whole operation.

“We welcome the fund … but the government may be trying to do a good thing only to produce a bad outcome,” Lau said. “You don’t need to help buy machinery that they already have.

“It would be better if the fund could subsidise frontline recyclers in collection and sorting.”

From a high of HK$6,500 per tonne, export prices for waste plastic have fallen by half to HK$3,200.

Processing costs, rent, wages and transport expenses continue to rise, and labour in the industry is drying up, recyclers say.

“Waste plastic would be priced at about HK$1 per kg, but now it’s dropped to zero,” said frontline recycler Leung Hing-fai, who owns a collection shop in Wan Chai.

Leung said he expected many recyclers to close in the near future as costs rise and margins for everything from waste paper to scrap metal get thinner.

“On a good month, I’m only making a profit of about HK$400 or HK$500,” he said. “I know a recycler who’s recently just quit and found a job as a minibus driver.”

Melonie Chau Yuet-cheung of Friends of the Earth said the situation on Hong Kong Island was worse due to the distance from processing plants in the New Territories.

“The government has not been addressing these problems,” she said.

Hong Kong’s recycling rate declined from 52 per cent in 2010 to 37 per cent in 2013. The amount of plastic recovered for recycling fell from 1,577 tonnes to 242 tonnes in the same period.

The Environmental Protection Department said purpose of the Recycling Fund was to help the industry improve their operational capability and efficiency. Recyclers will be allowed to apply for grants up to HK$5 million, while grants for non-profit organisations will be capped at HK$15 million.

To make it easier for small and medium sized businesses to embark on smaller-scale projects, a special “matching fund” with a ceiling of HK$150,000 will be provided.

“The industry can use a more convenient process to apply for assistance for standard projects like employee training, industry accreditation schemes and improving standards of occupational safety,” a spokesman said.

“The EPD will continue to monitor the latest market situation and maintain close contact with the industry to understand their needs.”

Seat says 700,000 cars have ‘cheat’ emissions software

Seat has said about 700,000 of its cars are fitted with the software that allowed parent company Volkswagen to cheat US emissions tests.

A spokesman said they are currently trying to work out how many were sold in each national market.

In Spain slightly over 3,000 new cars are affected but showrooms have been told to put them aside.

VW has said a total of 11m diesel engines are involved in the emission’s scandal.

Broken down brand-by-brand they are:

VW – 5m
Audi – 2.1m
Skoda – 1.2m
Seat – 700,000
Vans – 1.8m

Seat said it planned to contact owners so their cars can undergo tests.

It will also set up a search engine on its website to allow customers to find out if their vehicles are affected.

The Spanish carmaker said it had temporarily suspended the sale and delivery of all new vehicles with the EA 189 engines which contain the software.

Scandal spilling over

The scandal is continuing to hit VW’s share price. On Tuesday it fell another 1.5% during morning trade in Frankfurt. The company has lost 35% of its market value since last Monday.

A survey of 62 institutional investors by the investment banking advisory firm Evercore, showed 66% of them would not invest in VW for 6 months or until it clarified what costs, fines, and legal proceedings it faced.

The effects are also spilling over into the local economy around VW’s headquarters in Wolfsburg. The city is expecting a fall in business tax revenue from VW and the mayor has announced a budget freeze and hiring ban on public sector workers.

The scandal was revealed after the US Environmental Protection Agency found that some VW diesel cars were fitted with devices that could detect when the engine was being tested, and could change the car’s performance to improve results.

The German company has apologised for breaching consumers’ trust, and on Friday announced that Matthias Mueller was replacing Martin Winterkorn as chief executive. Mr Mueller promised a “relentless” investigation to uncover what went wrong.

He said the group was “facing the severest test in its history.”

German prosecutors announced on Monday that it was conducting a criminal investigation of Volkswagen’s former chief executive.

Making money from CO2

Imagine if waste carbon dioxide in the air could be turned into useful products such as fuels, building materials or even baking powder. At a stroke it would help get rid of a greenhouse gas, slow down climate change and make money from a major pollutant.

If that sounds like cloud cuckooland, the technology is already being used and companies are turning waste CO2 into commercially viable products.

In Massachusetts, Novomer is a company that has developed catalysts to convert the gas into polymers and plastics, and Joule is a biotech start-up using waste CO2 to feed bacteria that produce ethanol and diesel. Skyonic in Texas turns CO2 into construction materials and even baking soda, while Princeton University’s Liquid Light uses electricity and catalysts to convert it into the building blocks of bottles and fibres.

Much of this technology plugs into waste CO2 from polluting industries. But recent work has sucked it out of the air we breathe. Carbon dioxide is a trace gas, just 0.04% of the atmosphere, so large amounts of air have to be treated to extract it. Recent research at George Washington University captured atmospheric CO2, then turned it into graphene carbon nanofibres, used for strengthening materials in aircraft, cars, wind turbines and sports equipment.

Work is underway to scale up the technique, and if it can produce nanofibres cheaply enough, they could be used for strengthening building materials, thereby using up significant quantities.

And making money from CO2 is certainly an interesting way of tackling climate change.

Incineration of Municipal Waste in MSW Incinerators

Download (PDF, 250KB)

‘Merchants’: The selling of doubt

Based on the book by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, the new film “Merchants of Doubt” sheds light on the sleight of hand used by climate-change deniers, using a magician demonstrating card tricks to illustrate the metaphor.

The sowing of doubt about the validity of scientific data didn’t start with global warming. “Merchants” — by Robert Kenner, who directed “Food, Inc.” — cites the debate over the safety of cigarettes, when the tobacco industry publicly denied for years that its product was harmful until the release of its own internal documents revealed a carefully concealed coverup.

Since the tobacco industry push-back, public-relations flacks have honed their tack of either flat-out denying incontrovertible scientific evidence, or insisting that data is insufficient, ambiguous, or otherwise not convincing enough to act upon.

Before zeroing in on climate change, “Merchants” looks at manufacturers of flame-retardant products, which got fired up by big-tobacco tactics, but took them further. Chemical companies created front groups such as Citizens for Fire Safety to push for fire-retardant upholstery, which did not protect against fire, and proved to be carcinogenic.

The culmination of doubt-peddling currently plays out in the ongoing discussion about global warming, which scientists almost unanimously agree is largely caused by human activity: fossil-fuel burning, woodlands reducing, and more that increases the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The evidence continues to grow.

Unlike with the tobacco industry, climate-change deniers are not solely motivated by financial interests. Instead, “Merchants” puts them into two camps: financial and ideological.

The fossil-fuels industry trots out its experts — some of whom may be scientists in fields not familiar with climatology — to testify before Congress, opinionate in the media, or otherwise spread their contrarian message. As spin doctors, most are more effective at communication than real experts who engage in academic speak.

For example, “Merchants” interviews former salesman Marc Morano, an amusing if amoral pundit-for-hire who brags about working to debunk global warming just for the thrill of it. Morano cops to getting his kicks from debating qualified experts while getting his message across with more readily digestible sound bites.

“I’m not a scientist. I just play one on TV,” he quips. “Communication is about sales. Keep it simple; people will fill in the blanks with their own, I hate to say it, bias … with their own perspectives, in many cases.” Assessing the role he and his like fill, Morano adds, “We’re the negative force; we’re just trying to stop stuff.”

The other camp is dominated by Cold War veterans fixated on communism and anti-government ideologues who deny climate change simply because they don’t want government to wield its power to reduce it. As one of them colorfully puts it, “Environmentalists are like watermelons — green on the outside, red on the inside.”

While many deniers stick to the story that climate change is a hoax, some of the more practical people have proved adaptable: changing their rationale to deal with growing evidence. First, they claimed the Earth wasn’t warming. Then, they said that even if it were, humans can’t be blamed — it’s just cyclical. And now, they say that no matter what’s causing it, there isn’t anything that can be done about it anyway.

“Merchants” manages to find a couple former doubters who have switched sides: The Skeptic Society founder Michael Shermer, who ultimately decided that “you have to follow the science; data trumps politics,” and former Congressman Bob Inglis, who lost his re-election bid to a Tea Party member for siding with the enemy, but maintains “there are things we can do to change. The lie is that we can’t do it.”

The recurring theme of a magician relying on misdirection to work a trick runs through “Merchants.” Distraction is the key, warns Naomi Oreskes, co-author of the source book. “It’s all about preventing people from looking where the real action is, which is in the science.”

“Merchants of Doubt” is available on disc from Netflix; as video on demand from iTunes, Vudu and PlayStation; and, along with the book, from area libraries

Bridge project on man-made island breached environmental permit, says Hong Kong green group

Ernest Kao

A green group claims the Highways Department violated the conditions of an environmental permit for a man-made island that forms part of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge project by failing to declare significant changes in reclamation work.

Green Sense says that the location plans it had inspected in the nine amended environmental impact assessment (EIA) reports clearly showed that cylindrical steel cells – sunk into the seabed in a circular form and filled with debris – were to be used along the entire length of the seawall structure.

But two years ago the department’s contractor had begun using rubble mounds in some of the seawalls that may have caused more marine pollution, without noting the change in any of its nine amended assessments.

Green Sense chief executive Roy Tam Hoi-pong said this could amount to a breach of the EIA ordinance, which states that any variation to a report must prove “no material change to the environmental impact”.

Tam added that the Highways Department should not have let the contractor do this just to speed up work.

He also said the Environmental Protection Department had failed in its job to check the Highways Department.

“It is clear that this was a major change and if the EPD had allowed this, then we believe it to be a serious mishap and a defeat in the ordinance’s purpose.”

Tam said he would write to the Department of Justice urging them to take legal action and called on the relevant departments to take responsibility.

Last week the Highways Department admitted that flaws in the reclamation process were the reason part of the artificial island had drifted up to seven metres, sparking concerns of safety and cost overruns.

It said the movements were due to the use of steel seawalls, which eliminate the need for dredging, being used in the city for the first time.

The Highways Department said it had consulted the EPD and both methods were “non-dredge methods” with less environmental impact. “The EPD considered that the concerned amendments on works details involved no change to the … EIA report and no variation to the [permit] would be required.”

Environment minister Wong Kam-sing also said the project complied with permit requirements. He said silt curtains would help keep sludge from spewing into surrounding waters.

Durkan explains Hightown incinerator rejection

The No-Arc21 group was set up to oppose plans for an incinerator at Hightown Quarry. INLT 40-650-CON

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan has explained why he rejected planners’ recommendation to approve a waste incinerator at Mallusk. Mr Durkan said he made the decision to refuse planning permission for the Hightown quarry incinerator proposal after assessing the details presented to him, and addressing the opposition from the community. “I have carefully considered all the information before me. I have listened to the concerns of local people and their public representatives. To date there have been 3526 objections and one petition of objection with 836 signatures,” he stated. The minister believed the incinerator may have been detrimental to recycling if it had been allowed to go ahead.

“I am committed to a policy of zero waste and have worked hard with councils to increase recycling rates. I want this to continue. This development could result in an increased market for waste disposal and to maintain a facility such as this, in addition to the other approved waste facilities, could discourage recycling. In that context I do not consider there to be any need for this proposal,” Mr Durkan added.

NoArc21 campaigned strongly against the plans to construct the incinerator, and have welcomed the news that planning permission has not been approved.

Chairman of the group, Colin Buick said: “Over a number of years we have continuously highlighted the facts that arc21’s proposed incinerator is not needed, and, given its inappropriate location, would have a hugely negative impact on surrounding families. Today’s decision justifies our concerns and those of the 3500 people who have objected to the application.”

“We now call on arc21 to accept the Minister’s decision and to respect the views and concerns of thousands of local people in the Mallusk area and beyond,” Mr Buick added.

Alderman Mark Cosgrove was pleased with the decision to reject the planning permission and praised the efforts made by NoArc21.

“The people of Glengormley and Mallusk will be relieved at this announcement, but I believe that it was of vital strategic importance for the waste management sector in the whole of Northern Ireland. I want to pay a particular tribute to Colin Buick and his team from right across the Greater Mallusk and Glengormley area who led the community objections in such a professional and coherent manner,” the Ulster Unionist representative said.

DUP Councillor Matthew Magill praised the efforts made by NoArc21.

“I want to pay tribute to those from the local community who established the NoArc21 opposition campaign and who have spearheaded the fight against this proposal. Their campaign has received cross party and community support since its inception and as both a Mallusk resident and an elected representative for the area, I thank them for all their efforts. This decision has been a victory for local people,” he said.

SDLP North Belfast MLA Alban Maginness said the announcement reflected the strong campaign mounted by local residents and was a testament to those who have opposed the proposed £240m development.

He said: “This is a very welcome decision from the Environment Minister. Local residents have campaigned passionately against locating an incinerator here and Mark H Durkan listened.

“To propose an incinerator plant so close to several large residential developments, schools and an area of high scenic value like the Belfast Hills was fatally misguided. The response of local people has been impressive, proportionate and entirely justified. The SDLP will continue to support them.

“It’s important now that the arc21 councils take due regard of this decision and the views of those who have campaigned for so long. Waste management should be based on green, environmentally friendly alternatives to incineration. Their entire approach requires a fundamental rethink.

“Today’s decision is a testament to the fortitude of local people in the Hightown and Mallusk area and to the willingness of the Minister to seriously take account of the needs and circumstances of this community. I want to again congratulate them and thank the Minister for diligently listening to their case.”

Antrim and Newtownabbey Councillor Noreen McClelland added: “I’m delighted with this decision. I’ve been working closely with residents since the campaign began and their hard work has now paid off. This is good news for local people, the local community and our environment.”

South Antrim DUP MLA, Pam Cameron has also warmly welcomed confirmation that planning permission is not being granted to the arc21 proposal.

She said: “The site is located in a heavily populated area and there has been a huge amount of opposition from people living in the local area.

“The proposed incinerator at the site of the old Hightown Quarry was highly controversial for host of reasons and was opposed by over 3000 local residents.

“The need to reduce landfill waste is of paramount importance and for that reason I found it difficult to comprehend that the focus was on developing a plant to incinerate that waste rather than encouraging further recycling, reusing and repurposing initiatives.

“Whilst no one can argue with the need to reduce the amount of domestic and commercial waste we send to landfill; particularly given the European Directives and penalties for non-compliance, the entire proposal was quite simply was not safe, not sustainable and not wanted and confirmation that planning approval will not be granted should mean the search for alternative ways to deal with waste begins.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to commend the work of the No-Arc21 group for their tireless efforts to ensure that this issue has remained to the forefront in the area and thank them for their diligent determination to ensure that awareness was raised.”

Here’s The Joke Of A Sustainability Report That VW Put Out Last Year

Now that we know Volkswagen purposefully rigged 11 million vehicles to circumvent environmental rules, releasing an enormous amount of pollutants into the atmosphere, the company’s Sustainability Report from 2014 comes off as a horrible joke.

“It’s a jaw-dropper. So unbelievable,” Linda Greer, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council told The Huffington Post.

In the report, which was reviewed by consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, the automaker details its commitment to the customer, its employees and, of course, to the environment. “Environment” is mentioned 335 times over 156-pages — an average of twice per page.

“The Volkswagen Group has a long tradition of resolute commitment to environmental protection.” — page 86.

“We intend to put our creative powers to good use for the benefit of people and the environment.” — page 14.

As we now know, Volkswagen put its creative powers to use in a far less noble way, devising software to purposefully cheat on emissions tests and secretly installing it its diesel vehicles. On Wednesday, chief executive Martin Winterkorn was forced to quit his job at the world’s largest automaker in the wake of the growing scandal and in anticipation of billions in fines, lawsuits and increasing customer rage. More firings are on deck.

VW’s report follows a long tradition of companies using self-reported data — sometimes certified by well-paid consulting firms — to make broad declarations of ethical commitment, used to reassure the public that companies aren’t just profit-seeking monsters. These are called “corporate social responsibility” reports, “CSR” is the biz lingo. This is a huge movement; most corporations produce these things. Here’s Coca-Cola’s. And Ikea’s. And Exxon-Mobil’s.

And, of course, not all of these efforts are mere publicity ploys. Some companies take this stuff very seriously, even tying environmental goals to executive pay — an extremely sigficant matter. But in the wake of the VW scandal, it’s going to be harder for anyone to believe a word in these reports.

“[Volkswagen] will probably severely tarnish this entire movement,” writes Greer in a blog post. She’s written before about the key danger of CSR programs: that they end up as merely shiny promotional efforts that allow businesses to sidestep true responsibility for their endeavors.

“There are some companies doing good things,” Greer told HuffPost. “Oftentimes they’re just doing it and not necessarily putting it in a report.”

Yet many efforts are sideshows. Companies give money to philanthropies, for example, but fail to examine the core parts of their businesses that need attention.
Volkswagen will probably severely tarnish this entire movement.Linda Greer, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Greer is working with Target now on cleaning up environmental issues in the retailer’s supply chain. She also commends Apple for dealing with pollution issues overseas. “They have a CSR report, but I think they are walking the walk more than just talking the talk,” she said of Apple.

VW’s absurd document follows a long tradition. BP is also notorious for the false promise of its environmental slogans. The oil company won plaudits for acknowledging the reality of global warming and for the slogan “Beyond Petroleum” back in 2000. Then, in 2010, BP caused one of the worst oil spills in history.

By contrast, Exxon Mobil after the Exxon Valdez disaster became “religious about safety standards,” writes Chrystia Freeland for the Washington Post in 2010. Getting the oil out of the ground and moving it around the world without killing anyone or destroying the ocean is a core social responsibility.

So is adhering to environmental regulations, which VW brazenly decided to forgo.

Companies need to start with those simple goals before moving on to marketing materials.

HK$7 billion HKBCF artificial island is moving

The HK$7 billion Hong Kong Boundary Facilities (HKBCF) reclamation, a key element of the Hong Kong Zhuhai Macau bridge (HZMB) infrastructure, has encountered a serious problem – it is moving, or at least parts of it are.

Civil engineers familiar with the artificial island which is being built next to Hong Kong International Airport, say that part of the reclamation once moved 20 metres and there have been other movements in different parts of the island of up to 7 metres. The project is so sensitive that construction professionals involved with it say they have been forbidden to discuss it. The Highways Department has admitted in an email to that movements “of up to 6 or 7 metres” have occurred in various parts of the reclamation. This, the department says, is the result of adopting a non-dredging seawall construction method which is being used in Hong Kong for the first time. The Highways Department said in its email that the reclamation was unlikely to be completed by the end of 2016, which is already a year later than its original completion date. It is also a departure from a government press statement in November 2014 in response to media comment about possible delays, that the HKBCF would be completed by the end of 2016. has been told by engineers that much of the work at the site has halted and a review is underway to consider how to deal with the problem.

The HKBCF reclamation is being constructed by China Harbour Engineering Company at the Northeastern tip of the airport, opposite the Hong Kong SkyCity Marriott Hotel. It is a 150-hectare artificial island of which 130 hectares will be used for passenger and cargo clearing for traffic using the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao bridge, while the remaining 20 hectares will provide the landing point for the tunnel linking the artificial island to Tuen Mun. The HKBCF according to the HZMB website comprises cargo and passenger clearing and vehicle inspection facilities, offices for the Immigration Department and Customs & Excise, along with road networks, and a public transport interchange.

The HKBCF is a key hub without which traffic cannot flow across the new bridge. It is understood that attempts to prepare the foundation work for buildings to be erected on the site have had to be abandoned. When piles were driven into the bedrock on the site of the passenger clearance building, the piles were subsequently found to have moved by 100 millimetres which means they had broken or had bent, according to engineers.

When the reclamation contract was awarded back in December 2011, much was made of the environmentally friendly non-dredging sea wall construction that was to be employed in Hong Kong for the first time. The site of the reclamation comprises a considerable amount of soft mud. The conventional approach would have involved dredging this soft mud down to bedrock and filling it with marine sand, an approach which causes considerable ecological damage by disturbing the seabed, the quality of the water, and additional noise which is particularly disturbing to the pink dolphins in the area. Also there is no need to transport and dump the dredged marine mud causing ecological problems elsewhere or to find and transport tons of marine sand.

The non-dredge approach involved building a sea wall comprising big steel circular caissons with a diameter of about 30 metres. These were dropped into the sea three to four metres apart and joined by a flexible steel wall. Each caisson weighs about 450 tons empty and as the mud is dug out from the middle it drives itself down until it reaches a hard strata. Many of the reports on this project refer to the “tight construction period,’ since it is supposed to ‘dovetail’ with the commissioning of the HZMB. To speed up the settlement process a surcharge of additional weight is applied to the caissons and the soft material in the sea bed is squeezed out from under them. When the surcharge is withdrawn the hope is that the caissons have reached final settlement. Inevitably, engineers say, one part of the caisson hits hard strata first. Sometime there can be large difference in settlement at different parts of the caisson. In its email to, the Highways Department says the soft mud can vary in thickness from 10-30 metres. Because of the huge weights and pressures involved, the caissons can distort and sometimes tip and move. An engineer familiar with the project says that many of the caissons are still settling or sinking at a rate of 100 millimetres per month. The sea wall is not expected to fail but it may not keep the correct shape.

“The problem is that once again Hong Kong has allowed itself to be bullied into building this too quickly”, said one experienced engineering consultant. In the past Hong Kong has left reclaimed land to settle for between 5-15 years before building on it. “The problem with the HKBCF is that it hasn’t been left long enough and it is still settling.” Engineers are still considering what do about the problem. Meanwhile the clock is ticking for other projects that need to be built on top of the artificial island and to link to it. Contractors involved in erecting infrastructure on the building on the island are being kept waiting. Meanwhile Dragages Hong Kong is boring two 4.2 kilometre long two-lane road tunnels under the sea between Tuen Mun and the artificial island. At a contract price of HK$18.2 billion it is the biggest contract ever awarded in Hong Kong. It can’t complete the tunnelling until the reclamation is stable. If, as is possible, Dragages and the other contractors involved with HKBCF related project, are delayed then there are likely to be significant demands for compensation, further increasing the overall cost of the project.

In its email the Highways Department, no doubt with an eye on future criticisms and recriminations for adopting this non-dredge approach, is downplaying the project’s technical problems. “This kind of movement is normally found among large-scale reclamation projects adopting a non-dredge method in the main reclamation, with the HKBCF artificial island no exception,” the department said. However in explaining why the project will be delayed it says, “having regard to challenges such as unstable supply of materials, shortage of labour, restriction in airport height and constraints in environmental protection requirement, the HKBCF project may not be completed in time by end 2016.”

A consulting engineer said that while it was true that these were valid factors, “blaming the problems on these factors covers up the technical failures and gives them a nice excuse to justify delays which have been generated as a result of having to fix the engineering issues before being able to progress.

Large target population for man-made island

An artificial island between Hong Kong Island and Lantau may accommodate 400,000 to 700,000 people within the next 15 years, Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po said.

Kinling Lo

Monday, September 21, 2015

An artificial island between Hong Kong Island and Lantau may accommodate 400,000 to 700,000 people within the next 15 years, Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po said.

The project, to be located four kilometers from Hong Kong Island, was first mentioned in Chief Executive Leung Chun- ying’s policy address last year.

Chan said the government has moved on to the long- term strategic planning for the island, which is part of a framework set to give broad directions for land supply and town planning for a time horizon up to the year 2030.

The government is aiming to develop a core business district on the island in addition to Central and Kowloon East to promote economic development and provide job opportunities.

“Together with the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge and other developing infrastructure that links Lantau, the artificial island has the potential to become the third core business district in Hong Kong,” Chan said.

“This will help ease the traffic intensity in the other business areas and balance out the overall geographical distribution of the city’s economic activities.”

He said the island may form an East Lantau Metropolis together with other projects such as the third airport runway, Airport North Business District and Tung Chung new town.

Chan said its design is still at an initial stage and that a public consultation will be conducted.

But Save Lantau Alliance convener Eddie Tse Sai-kit said the group expects the scope of the consultation to be limited within practical arrangements and specific land use rather than one that engages the public in core discussions of the development direction.

“We suspect the building of this island may be one of Leung Chun-ying’s moves to hand in homework to the Beijing government rather than to meet local needs,” Tse said. “The whole of Lantau is set to be developed for tourism and not to suit the relaxed lifestyle of many Lantau residents.”

Tse added that the noise generated by challenges to the government’s plan of building the island has been much less compared with that arising from private land resumption.

“Not many people in Hong Kong are concerned about the public space of the sea,” Tse said.