Central and Wan Chai Reclamation


Central and Wan Chai Reclamation

Central and Wan Chai Reclamation is a project launched by the Hong Kong Government since the 1990s to reclaim land for different purposes.

Background

The project was first mentioned in the 1985 planning strategy by the Government. [150 Years of Hong Kong Harbour and Land Development, Ho Pui-yin, Commercial Press. ISBN 962-07-6339-4] The Government then completed a feasibility study in 1989, followed by endorsement of the then Land Development Policy Committee on the project. [http://www.cedd.gov.hk/eng/about/achievements/regional/regi_central.htm Central and Wan Chai Reclamation] ]

Objectives

The proposed reclamation extends along the waterfront from Sheung Wan to Causeway Bay. The ostensible objectives of the project, "inter alia", include :
*to supply land for the Hong Kong Station and the extended overrun tunnel of the Airport Express;
*to provide land for Central-Wan Chai Bypass and Island Eastern Corridor Link;
*to offer land for the upcoming Shatin to Central Link;
*to give land for the potential North Island Line;
*to improve the surroundings of neighbouring crowded districts by providing supplementary open space on the new reclamation; and
*to integrate the development with the existing areas.

The project

The project is divided into 5 phases.

Central Reclamation

Central Phase I

The Central Reclamation Phase 1 involved reclaiming 20 hectares of land, plus redevelopment of 6 hectares of land, between Rumsey Street and Pedder Street, for the construction of Hong Kong Station of the Airport Express Railway. It also provided land for new piers, replacements of other facilities affected by reclamation. Works started in 1993 and were completed in June 1998. This phase of reclamation is part of the Airport Core Programme. The cost was HK$2,710 million. Upon completion of the project, the coastline of Central was extended up to 350 metres beyond the original coastline. [ [http://www.info.gov.hk/napco/p-centralr.html Central Reclamation (Phase 1)] ]

Central Phase II

The Central Reclamation Phase 2 reclaimed 5.3 hectares of land at the former Tamar naval base. The reclamation formed land for the Tamar Site, and also 5 commercial development sites. Works started in December 1994 and were completed in September 1997. The cost was HK$320 million. [ [http://jmsc.hku.hk/jmsc6019/harbour/subpage_fact_cone.html Hong Kong Harbour Reclamation - FactBox - Central Harbour Reclamation Phase 1 & 2] ]

It has been proposed that a new complex housing the headquarters of the Government and the Legislative Council be built on the reclaimed land [ [http://www.tamar.gov.hk/home.htm Tamar Development Exhibition of Design Proposals] ] .

Central Phase III

The Central Reclamation Phase 3 involves reclamation for the overrun track of Airport Express, the west section of the proposed North Island Line and the Central-Wan Chai Bypass, new Star Ferry piers, new roads, and other facilities. The cost is HK$3,561.5 million. It was originally planned to reclaim 32 hectares of land, but has been reduced to 18 due to public opposition. [ [http://www.criii-cedd.com/background/history.htm Central Reclamation Phase III - Project History] ]

Works have started on 2003-02-28 and are scheduled to be completed in 2009. [ [http://www.cedd.gov.hk/eng/projects/major/hkihae7343cl.htm Central reclamation phase III - engineering works] ]

Wan Chai Development Project

Wan Chai Phase I

Wan Chai Reclamation Phase I ( Island Reclamation for the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre Extension) includes the formation of an island of 70,000 m² by reclamation at the northern side of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre to supply land for building an additional room to the Centre. The island configuration is to ensure that water quality in the vicinity remained at satisfactory levels after reclamation was completed. Works commenced in March 1994 and were completed in July 1997.

Wan Chai Phase II

Wan Chai Development Phase II extends along the water's edge from the Central Reclamation Phase III to Causeway Bay. This project together with Central Reclamation Phases I, II and III will mainly provide land for the construction of the Central-Wan Chai Bypass and the Island Eastern Corridor Link, the Hong Kong Island section of the Shatin to Central Link and the North Island Line. The project is being reviewed at the moment.

Controversy

Public protests

Not everyone welcomed with the reclamation plan warmly. Some Hong Kong residents thought the action was totally unnecessary; it did nothing good, merely reducing the size of Victoria Harbour. Instead of building a bypass, the opponents urge the government to start an electronic road toll scheme in the community.

On October 5, 2003, over 1,000 protesters dressed in blue marched on the Central Government Offices calling for a halt to reclamation work in the harbour [Agence France-Presse, [http://www.thestandard.com.hk/news_detail.asp?pp_cat=&art_id=28941&sid=&con_type=1&d_str=20031006&sear_year=2003 Thousands join protest against harbour reclamation] , The Standard, October 06, 2003] . They also promised to follow up with a three-pronged protest next month using land, sea and air to get their message across. The march was one of several protests in recent weeks over harbour projects, which the government says are necessary to ease traffic congestion in Central strictly due to the increase in private cars (the number of commercial vehicles and public transport vehicles have decreased over time). The government had lost the first round of a court battle, but then appealed against the decision.

The Society for Protection of the Harbour (SPH) applied for a stay of order and judicial review on September 25, 2003, prohibiting the government from continuing with the third phase of the Central reclamation project. The government resumed work to reclaim 230,000 m² of the harbour after the society failed in its bid to get hold of a court order to provisionally halt work ahead of December's judicial review [Teddy Ng, [http://www.thestandard.com.hk/news_detail.asp?pp_cat=&art_id=28344&sid=&con_type=1&d_str=20030926&sear_year=2003 Bid to halt harbour work] , The Standard, September 26, 2003] .

In September 2004, legislator Law Chi-kwong took a swim in Victoria Harbour bearing a plaque saying "Goodbye to the Queen", to protest the Central and Wan Chai Reclamation, particularly the loss of Queen's Pier. [ [http://www.thestandard.com.hk/news_detail.asp?pp_cat=&art_id=9508&sid=&con_type=1&d_str=20040908&sear_year=2004 Legislator in protest swim] , Associated Press, September 08, 2004]

Further public furore erupted in late 2006 when it was revealed the plans would involve the destruction of two notable 50-year old landmarks at the waterfront, namely the Edinburgh Place Ferry Pier and Queen's Pier. Both have become potent symbols for environmentalists, who have staged protests and rallies in the light of strong public opinion to preserve the collective memory of Hong Kong.

Judicial review

The SPH requested judicial reviews on the Reclamation, on February 27, 2003 and September 25, 2003 respectively. On October 6, 2003 the High Court announced that the Government may proceed with the Central Reclamation, however on September 1, 2004 the Court of Final Appeal rejected the Town Planning Board's proposal on the draft Wan Chai North outline zoning plan (OZP), and the Wan Chai Development Phase 2 had to be reviewed. [ [http://www.hplb.gov.hk/reclamation/eng/basic/central_chronology040331.htm Chronology of Events Relating to Central Reclamation Phase III ("CRIII")] ]

In an effort to soften opposition to the reclamation project, the Government proposed that the reclaimed land above the underground transport infrastructure could be used to construct a world-class waterfront promenade.

Marine pollution

In October 2003, Greenpeace said that the Central reclamation would create 580,000 cubic metres of toxic silt, 63% of which was classified as "seriously contaminated" by the Environmental Protection Department. The activists were repelled when they attempted to collect mud samples from the Central reclamation site for analysis [Matthew Lee, [http://www.thestandard.com.hk/news_detail.asp?pp_cat=&art_id=30628&sid=&con_type=1&d_str=20031030&sear_year=2003 Mud in eye for activists] , The Standard, October 30, 2003] . The Government was accused by Greenpeace of using "cheap and outdated" dredging methods during reclamations which leak toxic waste into the harbour.

It stood accused also of dumping the dredged toxic waste in outlying island sites near an artificial reef created to protect marine life such as the Chinese white dolphin. Fishermen reported that average catch had been cut by half since the reclamation startedDennis Chong, [http://www.thestandard.com.hk/news_detail.asp?pp_cat=&art_id=31315&sid=&con_type=1&d_str=20031110&sear_year=2003 Harbour poisoned: activists] , The Standard, November 10, 2003] . The Government responded that reclamation "would not cause irreversible marine damage."

Tender

The Government was found to have breached World Trade Organisation tendering rules in awarding the contract by unfairly changing the tendering conditions of the third phase of the reclamation after the tender was closed. However, the WTO ruling was not legally binding. [ [http://www.scmp.com Saturday, November 1, 2003, South China Morning Post, Harbour tender 'breaches WTO rules'] ]

References

ee also

*Airport Core Programme


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