Long Island Project

SINGAPORE: In a bid to address the imminent threat of rising sea levels, Mr Desmond Lee, Minister for National Development and Minister-in-charge of Social Services Integration, announced the initiation of technical studies and public consultations for the innovative ‘Long Island’ project. With approximately 30% of its land situated below five meters above mean sea level, Singapore faces significant vulnerability, particularly in the East Coast region, where instances of flooding have already been reported.

Mr Desmond Lee, Minister for National Development and Minister-in-charge of Social Services Integration, disclosed the ambitious project on Tuesday, Nov 28. The Long Island project involves reclaiming land off the East Coast, potentially forming islands at a distance from the existing coastline. This integrated solution aims to protect homes, businesses, and critical infrastructure such as East Coast Parkway and Changi Airport while offering opportunities for future development and recreation.

The ‘Long Island’ concept was initially introduced in 1991, gaining prominence as a potential response to climate change during Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s National Day Rally in 2019. Over time, conceptual plans have evolved based on public feedback, focusing on retaining access to the coast and waterfront views.

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The primary objective of ‘Long Island’ is to create a continuous line of defence along the coast, protecting against rising sea levels. Reclaimed land will be elevated, forming a barrier against seawater. The project includes a new reservoir with tidal gates and pumping stations, mirroring the successful model of Marina Barrage. This reservoir prevents seawater ingress during high tides and addresses water supply needs, enhancing Singapore’s overall water resilience.

Alternative proposals, such as constructing a sea wall along the entire waterfront of East Coast Park, were considered but deemed less practical due to extended disruptions during construction and the large space requirement for pumping stations.

Besides safeguarding against rising sea levels, ‘Long Island’ presents exciting opportunities for Singaporeans. Adding approximately 20 km of coastal and waterfront parks could triple the length of existing parks in the area. These green and blue spaces could integrate with recreational areas, waterfront living concepts, and nature-based solutions, creating multi-functional and climate-resilient spaces.

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However, the realisation of ‘Long Island’ is expected to be a lengthy process, spanning a few decades. Technical studies, commencing in early 2024, will include engineering assessments and environmental impact evaluations, exploring potential trade-offs and opportunities associated with reclamation.

Public engagement is a crucial aspect of the project. As part of the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s ongoing Draft Master Plan 2025, stakeholders, including nature and recreational interest groups, businesses, and the local community, will actively shape the plans for ‘Long Island.’ Preliminary feedback is currently being sought, with more in-depth discussions planned as they gather information from the technical studies in the coming years. /TISG