Wetland near a butterfly breeding ground was filled for the construction of houses, leading to environmental concerns, said the Conservancy Association.

About 1.25 hectares of wetland, the size of a football pitch, was filled in Tuen Mun’s Lung Kwu Tan. The NGO said that when they inspected the area in July, they saw seven to eight dump trucks offloading in the space of half an hour. They were told by workers at the scene that small houses will be built.

The association said the “biggest reason behind the continual destruction of Lung Kwu Tan’s environment is because no ‘Development Permission Area Plan’ has been made.” They said that this would let people “first destroy and then build.”

Dump trucks at the site.

According to local media, part of the land belongs to relatives of Lau Wong-fat, who represents the Heung Yee Kuk constituency.

Under the New Territories Small House Policy, any male indigenous villager who is descended through the male line from someone who was a resident of a village in the New Territories in 1898 may apply to build a small house once during his lifetime. The house –  a maximum of three storeys in height and 700 square feet on each floor – can be built on their own land at zero premium, or on public land through a private treaty grant. This right is non-transferable, and it is a criminal offence to sell the right.

Lau Wai Ping, the Indigenous Inhabitant Representative of Lung Kwu Tan, told Apple Daily that the filling of the wetland is not against the law and will be used to build houses and parking lots. He said that “good soil” was used and the construction will not affect the environment.

About 200 metres from Lung Kwu Tan is an area which is a butterfly breeding ground, which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and the only one of its kind in the Western New Territories. Butterflies including the Red Lacewing, which are seldom seen in Hong Kong, breed there.

Not under government control

The area where the filling occurred.

The Planning Department told Ming Pao that as the filling occurred on private land, there are no restrictions on how it is used and thus did not violate the land lease. It also said that there were some small areas that could be government land, and the Lands Department has already arranged for surveyors to see if it has crossed boundaries.

The association said it was regrettable that the Planning Department still had not responded to questions about the planning of Lung Kwu Tan as of Monday morning.

Chantal Yuen

Chantal Yuen is a Hong Kong journalist interested in issues dealing with religion and immigration. She majored in German and minored in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University.