Wheelock & Co is trying to win support from green groups and the Government for a residential project in Wong Yue Tan, Tai Po, by increasing the amount of wetlands. The project incorporates a large nature reserve and a low-density residential development. Wheelock recently consulted green groups on the scheme and would submit an application to the Town Planning Board soon, according to sources. Located in an environmentally sensitive area, the project was once the subject of green-group opposition. Several years ago, the World Wide Fund For Nature Hong Kong took steps to block the development with a proposal to rezone the site into a conservation area - a proposal the planning board accepted. With this constraint, Wheelock has been silent for years but recently it resumed work on its development project. Sources said the new scheme proposed a nature reserve of up to 22 hectares of wetlands with active management funded by a wetland trust. The proposal created a net gain in wetlands compared to the present status of the area. Additional wetlands came from restoring some illegally filled lots and open storage. Sources said the area had been troubled by illegal dumping for some time. They said the net-gain model was more satisfied the no-net-loss principle adopted in another environmentally sensitive area - the surrounding area of Mai Po marshes. In Wong Yue Tan, there is no similar established principle or guideline for developments. Wheelock also took into consideration Wong Yue Tan villagers' demand to build small houses by earmarking land for their future development. Sources said the measures would prevent a possible threat to wetlands there because of plans to develop the village in the future. Wheelock proposed building its own project in an area near the site allocated for future village houses by a plot ratio not exceeding 0.3. Sources said the site covered up to 28 hectares and the residential floor area would be between 600,000 square feet and 700,000 sq ft with each building rising six to 12 storeys. Wong Yue Tan's ecological values lay in its role as feeding ground to sustain the nearby Shuen Wan Egretry at Shuen Wan Chim Uk, which supports a mixture of herons.