Artefacts that might shed light on Hong Kong's earliest inhabitants could be lost forever when the Western Corridor Railway is built, experts fear. The Government's Antiquities Advisory Board urged the Kowloon Canton Railway Corporation (KCRC) at a meeting last week to allow researchers time to dig for the relics - before they are irrevocably concreted over. But KCRC West Rail environmental manager Vic McNally said though the company would 'bend over backwards' to help, it could not guarantee giving archaeologists the year they say they need for 'rescue digging'. The oldest signs of human life in Hong Kong, found on Lamma Island in April, pushed back known habitation here to 6,000 years ago. The western New Territories could throw more light on this era, following findings as old as this at Chek Lap Kok before the airport was built, said board chairman Professor David Lung Ping-yee. The west was the richest part of Hong Kong in terms of relics dropped by early visitors, who began turning up about 1,500 years ago, he said. 'It appears to us that this is one of the areas [the KCRC] has not touched on at this stage. Without proper planning our heritage could be wiped out,' he said. No senior KCRC staff had yet consulted the Antiquities and Monuments Office, which holds a list of historical sites in the area, despite requests that they should do so, he said. 'There wasn't a genuine attitude until recently.' But Mr McNally said he was surprised by the board's negative statement because the KCRC had been the ones to approach it. 'We have said we will try to indicate the route as early as we can so they can decide whether it's likely that there are sites of importance,' he said. The meeting also recommended that lighthouses at Cape d'Aguilar, Green Island, Kap Sing on Tung Lung Chau - east of Hong Kong Island - and Waglan Island be declared monuments. The oldest of these, at Cape d'Aguilar and Green Island, were built in 1875 and were originally staffed by lighthouse keepers - though all are now automatic.