The police have launched an investigation into a fire which broke out last month at the Nam Sang Wai wetlands in Yuen Long.
The fire was discovered on December 21, about a week before a consultation on development plans for the area ended on December 30. The burnt area was larger than the size of a football pitch.
Democratic Party lawmaker Roy Kwong Chun-yu wrote to the Police Commissioner urging a thorough investigation after he learned of the fire. Kwong received a written reply from the police on Wednesday, notifying him that the Yuen Long District Investigation Team 9 will be handling the case.
The burned area is 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.
Kwong said the area has a high ecological value in that migrating birds often visit, but in recent years there have been several similar fires in the area that were “professionally started.”
In 2010, a fire occurred two weeks before a development deadline. He said he suspected that intentional incidents were aimed at lowering the environmental value.
“This was a suspicious fire, in that the destroyed area is located in the core area of Nam Sang Wai – where developers planned to build luxury flats and a golf course over the years,” he said. “The destruction caused by this suspected arson has upset many friends who care about Nam Sang Wai. If the incident was man-made, the police must find the arsonist who cannot be allowed to escape.”
He urged the police to increase patrols to avoid any further “suspicious” fire.
In response to enquiries last month, the Nam Sang Wai Development Company Limited told Ming Pao that it knew of the fire through media reports, and had sent representatives to inspect the site on December 22. The company found that the burnt area included private and government land, and a security camera at an old building near the fire location was damaged. Therefore it reported the case to the police.
It added that it has been cutting the grass every winter to lower the risk of a fire, and removed dead trees to ensure visitor safety. It has increased security, grass goosing and other fire preventive measures.