According to Hong Kong's officials, the project will address the land shortage of the region. Artificial islands will create a 1,000 hectares space near the island of Lantau. Their main purpose will be to host residential buildings in order to tackle Hong Kong's housing crisis.
Hong Kong is an economic center of Asia and one of the most over-populated cities in the world. The problem is exacerbated as a large piece of land is held by property developers and private rental facilities.
Artificial islands will provide room for about 260,000 apartments. 70% of them will be reserved for housing, according to the government. If the plan gets on track, construction works will initiate in 2025 and the first residents can move in seven years later. About 50% of the estimated cost is going to cover the construction of the islands while the rest will be used to develop transport infrastructure. The land will be formed at a 6-meter elevation above sea level in order to tackle the impact of climate change in the next years.
However, the plan has received severe criticism. Experts warn that the cost which is equal to more than half of Hong Kong's total financial reserves, is financially hazardous. Moreover, some believe that it is harmful and unnecessary for environmental reasons. Artificial island will pose a severe threat for the area’s endangered pink dolphin.
According to Greenpeace, a solution that would involve the development of brownfield sites to address land shortage would be much less expensive and more beneficial for the environment. "Compared with reclamation, (development of) brownfield sites has high public support and the cost is cheaper," said Greenpeace campaigner Andy Chu. The Secretary for Development of Hong Kong, Michael Wong, said that cost of the project will be regained by selling the reclaimed land to developers.
Many people, who are against the project, have been protesting in the streets to prevent the execution of the project. A campaign group, called "Save Lantau Alliance", stated that building new residences is not necessary. According to future predictions, the population of Hong Kong is going to be around current levels by the middle of the century, despite it is still growing, at the moment. “Statistics show that Hong Kong’s population will peak at 8.22 million in 2043, and shrink to 7.6 million in 2064. Although the population will drop, the government still wants to justify the development by increasing land reserves for this phantom population,” their leaflet stated.