Appearance of two 'ecologists' stokes fears over Sham Chung development Environmentalists fear development work is secretly proceeding at the Sham Chung wetland, despite denials by the site's main owner. Green groups have been alarmed at the presence of two 'ecologists' at the site for the past two months. The land has been at the centre of controversy over the creation of a recreation centre and golf course by Sun Hung Kai Properties, which owns some of the site. The two ecologists told members of Green Power they were studying the possibility of relocating the Hong Kong paradise fish, an endemic freshwater species in the area, in the event of development. They said the fish, and its habitat in Sham Chung, were stumbling blocks to development. But Sun Hung Kai has denied it sent ecologists to the site, and reiterated that there were no plans to resume the golf course development. Ken Ching See-ho, a researcher from the Eco-Education and Resources Centre, said the two mainlanders had been seen frequently at the site since August. The centre is collaborating with Green Power to study the biodiversity of Sham Chung. 'The two men were inspecting and counting fish at a natural pond. They told our researchers they were studying the possibility of relocating the fish' Mr Ching said. He said the men claimed they were ecologists from a Guangdong university and were hired to submit a report on the fish to developer Sun Hung Kai in seven weeks. However, a company spokeswoman said: 'Sun Hung Kai Properties did not send any mainland scholars to do environmental studies or research in the area. I want to repeat that our company leased the land to local villagers a few months ago so they could start a recreational centre. We have no plans to develop the area at present.' Sham Chung village head Li Kwok-on said he had not heard anything about the mainlanders. 'I don't know anything about this. I haven't been there for months,' he said. The developer and some villagers own half of the 30 hectares at Sham Chung that do not fall within any statutory land-use zone. There are no environmental regulations governing the site if it is developed solely as a golf course. Mr Ching said he also found workers cutting grass at the site. But the workers declined to say who they were working for. Man Chi-sum, chief executive officer of Green Power, said they feared preparations were being made to turn the site into something more than even a golf course. In the latest ecological find at the site, the green group spotted a butterfly species there for the first time - the oriental striped blue, which is rare in Hong Kong.