A wetland area in Yuen Long larger than the size of a football pitch has been scorched as a consultation on development plans for the area draws to a close.

Other than burned trees, Democratic Party lawmaker Roy Kwong Chun-yu found that some had been chopped down around the area in Nam Sang Wai.

Photo: Roy Kwong.

Kwong said the burned area was owned by Nam Sang Wai Development Company Limited. Its shareholders are property tycoons – namely Adrian Fu Hau-chak of the Fu Family who has owned the land for decades, and Martin Lee Ka-Shing, vice chairman of Henderson Land Development. They have applied to develop the area for residential use.

The controversial proposal to create a 300,000 square metre residential area, includes 28 towers and 140 houses of four to 26 storeys. A review is underway and the consultation ends on December 30.

Photo: Democratic Party.

Kwong said the burnt area was the “core area” where visitors usually come sightseeing, adding that the whole area has a high environmental value in that migrating birds often visit.

He said that similar fires, which were “professionally started,” have occurred in recent years – such as in 2010, when a fire occurred two weeks before a development deadline. He said he suspected that intentional incidents were aimed at lowering the environmental value.

Photo: Democratic Party.

“If this fire was man-made, it would have been done after midnight, since it is unlikely no-one would notice them during day time,” he said. “I hope the police will investigate and increase patrols because if the arsonist was successful once, it is concerning that it may happen again – and Nam Sang Wai cannot afford that.”

“In the past, many examples of ‘destroy before development’ have occurred, whereby developers may have mistakenly thought that destroying or lowering the land’s environmental value could increase their chances of plans being approved,” he said.

Photo: Roy Kwong.

Kwong added that he would write to the Town Planning Board to demand members consider the incident during the next meeting.

Last July, residents protested against the proposal whilst the Worldwide Fund the Nature said the plan involved “unacceptable ecological impacts.”

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.