Carrie Lam is standing firm in pushing the Lantau Tomorrow Vision, urging lawmakers to pass funding for a feasibility study on creating artificial islands off Lantau.
She also proposed setting up a platform to allow youngsters and professionals to voice their opinions, to ensure housing built on the islands will serve the needs of citizens.
The vision, with a preliminary price tag of HK$624 billion, has two main parts: building a 1,000-hectare artificial island at Kau Yi Chau and another 700-hectare artificial island at Hei Ling Chau.
In June, the government moved the HK$550 million request for a feasibility study to the bottom of the agenda of the Finance Committee due to growing unrest.
The study covers a detailed planning and engineering study for the artificial islands around Kau Yi Chau, as well as transport studies for road and rail links between Hong Kong Island, the artificial islands in the Central Waters, Lantau and coastal areas of Tuen Mun.
Yesterday Lam signaled the government's persistence in carrying through the plan by urging lawmakers to pass the funding request.
"Reclamation in the Central Waters under the Lantau Tomorrow Vision will create a vast area of new land for comprehensive planning, which will serve as an important measure of land production in the medium to long term," she said.
The Kau Yi Chau artificial island will not only provide 1,000 hectares of land for Hong Kong, but also space to build a "brand-new community for the next generation," she said.
The transport network connecting the artificial islands will relieve congestion on the West Rail and Tuen Mun Highway.
Lam also said she understood that people have concerns over the plan, including why extensive reclamation is required and its cost.
She said a platform will be established for professionals and young people to take part in formulation of measures on urban design, land use and sustainable development.
The platform will also explore the link between the housing needs of Hong Kong people and the housing plans on the artificial islands.
"By doing so, we aim to ensure that the housing development made possible by the Lantau Tomorrow Vision is for our citizens and for Hong Kong," she said, responding to past accusations that the islands will cater to the needs of new immigrants.
Ryan Ip Man-ki, the head of land and housing research at think tank Our Hong Kong Foundation, welcomed the government's stance.
"The plan will be an important source of land supply in the medium to long term," he said. "Society cannot afford to stall any longer in view of our acute land and housing shortage."
The Civic Party's Tanya Chan was unhappy about the government's "obsession with infrastructure and waste of money."
"This decision will not provide housing for Hong Kong citizens and the next generation. It will only bring heavy debts for the generations to come," she said.
Greenpeace insists on the plan's withdrawal to protect rare birds and lizards.