Hong Kong Civil Engineers | A most challenging role

Posted by Richard Poulter Construction Recruitment Director, Hong Kong on Monday, June 21, 2021


The vast majority of Hong Kong is steep and hilly and presents significant challenges for development.  Land use for development is scarce and development costs are at an all-time high. The territory’s topography has for years, also drawn civil engineers, to ply their trade in design and construction of some of the world’s most technically challenging infrastructure.

The geology of Hong Kong is particularly suited to the use of rock caverns therefore to support the territory’s sustainable development, the government is adopting a multi-dimensional approach to exploration of new land resources which includes these “hidden” underground space resources.

Underground cavern development is an established technology and not new in Hong Kong. Some underground MTR stations have been constructed in rock caverns as well as sewage treatment plants and explosives depots. However, the use of rock caverns has not until now been fully exploited.

Hong Kong has far outstripped supply with its insatiable demand for land resources. There are numerous instances across Hong Kong of incompatible land uses. For example, a sewage treatment plant located adjacent to a housing estate. For a multitude of socio-economic reasons, these so called “not in my backyard” or “NIMBY” type facilities are prime contenders for relocation underground.

A feasibility study into relocation of the Shatin Sewage Treatment Works into rock caverns was conducted in 2013. Following the conclusion that it was technically feasible and financially viable, investigation and design works commenced in 2014. This will be the largest cavern complex ever built in Hong Kong. The project will comprise:

  • Site preparation and access tunnel construction
  • Cavern construction
  • Sewage treatment facilities installation
  • Modification and construction of upstream sewage and pumping stations
  • Decommissioning and demolition of existing sewage treatment works

The caverns will occupy 14 hectares and about 2.3 million cubic meters in volume.  The estimated project costs is around HK$14 billion.  

The project will release about 28 hectares of land for other uses that will benefit the public and the living environment of the district.

The civil engineering contractor for the relocation of the Shatin Sewage Treatment Works to caverns will soon be identified and civil engineering recruitment in Hong Kong will no doubt ramp up. I would be pleased to hear from civil engineers, project managers, planners and quantity surveyors who are interested to join this fabulously challenging tunneling project. 

The acquisition of land and the management of land use conflicts is a crucially important subject matter in Hong Kong with far reaching implications. One of our major clients is seeking to appoint a Land Administration Manager to join their busy Land use team.

If you are qualified engineer or surveyor with some experience in civil engineering design and “gazetting” please send us your CV and progress your career today. 


Richard Poulter
Construction Recruitment Director, Hong Kong

I am responsible for the recruitment business in Hong Kong, Asia, and the Middle East. I was a civil engineer and project manager for 15 years before becoming a construction industry recruitment consultant in 2004. I am based in the Hong Kong office and specialise in placing professionals in engineering, project management, planning, HSEQ and risk.
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Email: richard@maximrecruitment.com