Uncertain Fates- A Study of Problems faced by Reclamation Megaprojects Worldwide
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- 考證外國大型填海實況 政府及智庫組織曾援引外國人工島「成功」案例以支持明日大嶼，然而國際間不少大型填海項目的預期與落實之間出現落差，故本港有必要檢視歷年眾多國際大型填海的真實現況，系統性整理大型填海項目共同面對的問題，而這些問題亦極有可能在明日大嶼發生，值得社會深入討論。
- 檢視規劃及財政操作的潛在問題 由於明日大嶼項目規模之大前所未見，為此政府亦引入不同的規劃及財政手法應對，如「邊填海邊規劃」、公私合營融資填海、「斬件式」環評、綠色債券等。全球類近填海項目不乏這些做法的失敗經驗，本研究分析這些操作的潛在問題，可警示明日大嶼將來遇到的後果。
- 本研究找出52個符合研究範圍的大型人工島或近岸填海項目。52個項目中，24個（46%）出現至少一種涉及整體完成度的問題（包括空置、延誤逾兩年、停滯，以及擱置或部分擱置）。即使有24個項目能夠完成填海，當中有5個 (20.8%）出現空置問題。然而若聚焦13個填海面積1,000公頃或以上的項目，能夠完整完成的只有一個（8%），多達10個（77%）項目出現涉及完成度的問題。
In recent decades, large-scale land reclamation has become a popular way to create new urban areas around the world. These projects include the artificial island project of Lantau Tomorrow Vision, under which land reclamation will commence by 2025. However, the society has remained skeptical about the potential financial and environmental impacts of the project and its feasibility. As a global phenomenon of creating land for urban development in recent decades, large-scale land reclamation projects will be studied in this research to sort out and analyze their problems. This study may bring insights to Lantau Tomorrow Vision in the following ways:
- Large-scale reclamation projects around the world analyzed:
The government and pro-government think tanks have referenced the “successful” projects abroad to rationalize Lantau Tomorrow Vision, but many large-scale reclamation projects around the world have fallen short of expectations, so we are obliged to review the large-scale land reclamation projects around the world, and systematically pinpoint the problems faced by them in common. These problems deserve more public discussion because they are very likely to reappear in Lantau Tomorrow Vision.
- Potential problems in planning and financial arrangements:
Given the unprecedented scale of Lantau Tomorrow Vision, the government has introduced new planning and finance strategies such as “planning during land reclamation”, public-private partnership, compartmentalized environmental impact assessments and green bond issuance. Yet many of these practices have failed elsewhere over the years. This study analyzes the potential problems of these strategies and predicts their impacts on Lantau Tomorrow Vision.
- As a reference for global ESG investment:
Signs show that the government may issue green bonds and introduce emerging “eco-friendly” concepts to finance Lantau Tomorrow Vision. New land reclamation technologies have been touted by the government as “eco-friendly” as well. Yet, case study shows that many large-scale artificial island projects have caused serious environmental, social and governance problems which cannot be overcome by technologies alone. By studying the cases around the world, this study can help the public and the potential global investors better understand the actual environmental and social impacts of artificial island projects.
- Large-scale reclamation projects are more likely to fail:
- In this study, we identify 52 large artificial islands or near-shore reclamation projects that fit the scope of study. At least one type of problem related to the degree of completion (e.g. vacancy, delays for more than two years, or projects being stalled, abandoned or partially abandoned) is found in 24 of the 52 projects (46%). For the completed projects, five (20.8%) have high vacancy rates. Only one of the 13 projects with 1,000 hectares of reclaimed land has been fully completed, while ten (77%) projects involve problems in terms of degree of completion.
- Engagement of international consultants ended with mixed results:
- This study finds that the participation of large global engineering consultancies in planning has been used by the governments around the world to rationalize large reclamation projects. Yet, their involvement is never a guarantee of project success. Nearly half of the projects (13 projects; or 45%) involving global consultancies have problems in terms of degree of completion. Some of them have various planning, environmental and engineering problems. Over the past decade or so, some large global consultancies have won contracts for large-scale infrastructure projects in Hong Kong. As a large-scale reclamation project about to begin, Lantau Tomorrow Vision is expected to involve the participation of those global consultancies.
- Geographical distribution:
- Among the 52 projects that meet our criteria, 45 of them are located in Asia, particularly in East Asia (17 projects), West Asia (15 projects) and South & Southeast Asia (13 projects). A quarter of them (13 projects) are in the Mainland of China, and more than half of the projects in China have problems in terms of progress or high vacancy rates upon completion.
- Causing backlash across the globe:
- In spite of the global craze for land reclamation, projects have been met with local opposition around the world. This study finds that at least ten land reclamation projects have been met with local opposition; and four of them had to be stalled or trimmed due to public pressure. The reasons for the local opposition against land reclamation were mostly about the neglect of public opinion and needs, as well as the environmental and social impacts since project commencement.
- Development models:
- Government-led projects take up the largest share of projects (22 projects; or 42%), followed by private-led projects (20 projects; or 38%) and those under public-private partnership (10 projects; or 19%). The average size of land reclaimed by public-private partnership projects (1,727 hectares) is much larger than those in government-led (872 hectares) or private-led projects (793 hectares), so large projects in recent years have often been financed through public-private partnership. Yet, 60% of the public-private partnership projects fell through, the highest among the three modes of development.