Firefly prompts new study for Yuen Long developers

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 30 March, 2012, 12:00am

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The developers of a housing project at an ecologically sensitive Yuen Long wetland are broadening their environmental impact study, to assess the impacts of a vehicle bridge and verify the presence of a firefly species new to science.


The environmental study for the Nam Sang Wai wetland housing project began last year, after the developers - including Nam Sang Wai Development Company and Kleener Investment - submitted their project profile to the Environmental Protection Department. Following normal procedure, the department in August gave the developers a brief setting out the scope and requirements of the impact study.


On Wednesday, the developers went back to square one, submitting a new project profile to the department. The public will again have two weeks to comment on the profile.


'We just enriched the content of the profile with more ecological data we have obtained so far,' a spokeswoman for the developers said, adding that the environmental impact study was continuing uninterrupted.


She said the new submission would not affect their schedule for launching the project, which involved up to 1,500 homes in a 50-hectare area. Construction is scheduled to begin next year and continue until 2019. A 56-hectare nature reserve in Lut Chau will also be formed.


The new submission made several amendments to the old one, adding a new connecting-road bridge across the Shan Pui River and revising some initial ecological findings. In particular, it highlighted the likely existence of a firefly species new to science at the project site.


The mangrove-dependent Pteroptyx maipo was first discovered at Hong Kong Wetland Park in 2009. It was confirmed to be a new bent-winged firefly species by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department last year.


The developer said it was 'very possible' that the firefly was present in the wetland, especially near the Lut Chau fish pond.


'Fieldwork in the appropriate season is required in order to investigate whether this species is present,' the new project profile says.


The firefly discovery has stalled another housing project at Fung Lok Wai wetland, by a subsidiary of Cheung Kong Group.


Apart from the firefly, the Yuen Long developers also revised the section on amphibians in the profile. They said three species of concern to conservationists were found in Nam Sang Wai recently, including the endangered Reeves terrapin and the near-threatened Burmese python. The previous profile had mentioned the common rat snake, but not the other two species.


Alan Leung Sze-lun of WWF Hong Kong said the group was still very concerned about the possible destruction of the wetland's reed bed habitat.