The public consultation on the future of the Lamma ex-quarry is currently underway (http://www.ex-lammaquarry.hk/).
Though the public has been given little opportunity to examine the options, the Chief Executive has already determined the outcome by promising to hand over the land to private developers for real estate development.
Hong Kong has competing needs for housing, open space, leisure activities, and conservation and the public is in the process of processing the information provided by the government on the future of the quarry site and voicing their concerns. However,
- The government’s presentation to the public is pure marketing – full colour, buzzwords, graphics and photos that bear no resemblance to the area.
- Even the photos of Lamma are labelled wrongly, are out of date, or are very selective in what they show. There are no photos, which explain the wildlife at the quarry site, for instance. A wooden table at a restaurant depicts a “recreational outlet” yet no mention is made of Lamma’s hugely successful water sports competitions, mountain biking, camping, and outward bound activities.
- There is not one reference to any research or one bit of data on which to base the options. The demand for housing at this site is not explained. There are no estimates of the cost of housing and transport, or assessments of the costs and benefits of each option.
- The assessment of “the existing Lamma” is inaccurate, leaving out planned development (the Baroque, village houses, the Phase II reclamation, other reclamations off Sok Kwu Wan and North Lamma), unoccupied housing (new village houses, abandoned buildings and Lamma I – which does not live up to the promise of the website: http://www.kwd.com.hk/lamma1.htm), and the many problems existing communities face due to inadequate facilities or environmental degradation, particularly with regard to the marine trash that accumulates along the shoreline.
- The timing of the consultation is not conducive to public participation, being held over the Christmas and New Year period, and the deadline for comments is 6th February.
Many questions have been raised by the consultation and remain unanswered:
- What is the demand for housing at the quarry?
- Why are all the options put forward by government for the development of this site based on real estate?
- Why has the public been provided with no data on which to base an informed opinion?
- Why does the government fail to explain developments planned for Lamma?
- Why has the public not been given details of the ecology of the quarry?
- Why has the Chief Executive promised to hand the development of the quarry over to private developers before the public consultation has reached a conclusion? (Note: according to press reports, the owner of the quarry building owns 3 million square feet of land on Lamma, including that belonging to the Baroque (a development on South Lamma which seeks to rezone land that is zoned as conservation and coastal protection in order to build 900 flats, a marina, hotel, shopping plaza and car park) and Lamma 1 (a “luxury” development on Lamma, which has long been unoccupied).