Lands Department officials knew in July about a cemetery development on an island in Tai Po, but they spent two months seeking lawyers' advice about whether such a development would breach land-lease laws - and did little else. The disclosure came as the department was yesterday still pondering whether it could act against Union Lucky Development Ltd, which built the cemetery on private land at the southern tip of Ma Shi Chau, and what form that action might take. Department officials still could not say whether land-lease conditions relating to the site had been violated. An e-mail obtained by the South China Morning Post showed that department officials were tipped off by conservationists in mid-July about the cemetery on the island, which has been earmarked as a geopark. Since then it has done nothing and is still waiting for legal advice from government lawyers. 'It is like a police officer seeing strangers with pistols outside a bank but taking no action to stop them and just waiting,' a conservationist familiar with the situation said. In the e-mail, Lands Department officials promised to step up patrols at the site. What officials said they had ascertained since July was that the two concerned private lots were agricultural land. One of them was listed as 'paddy and dry cultivation' in the old land lease dated decades ago. The other one was also believed to be subject to some kind of lease conditions dating from 1924. Environmentalists have become impatient with the department's inaction and have publicly called on the developer to exercise restraint. 'We know we could not say no to development on a private site, but the bottom line is that it must be legal,' Association for Geoconservation chairman Young Ng Chun-yeong said. 'The developer should also take measures to minimise the visual impact' of the development. But an Environmental Protection Department spokesman played down the visual impact of the cemetery and said the site had low geological value and was outside the proposed geopark's boundary. Yau Wing-kwong, chairman of the Tai Po Environmental Association and an adviser to the Heung Yee Kuk, a New Territories indigenous villagers' group, said he had organised a meeting of the developers, Lands Department officials and conservationists next Tuesday. The directors of Union Lucky Development have not responded to Post reports about the cemetery. Reporters yesterday visited Union Lucky's registered office at Kwong Fuk Road, Tai Po, and found the office was being run under another company called Regent (Holdings) Ltd. An employee there said Chan Tsz-kin, one of the two Union Lucky directors, was out on business and unavailable. A visit to the home address of another director, a woman whose English name was not shown on the company registry, turned up two women who denied the place was the director's residence. A company registry search shows that Regent (Holdings) Ltd is owned by Cheung Hing-hoi and his wife, Cheung Bik-fong, who was a director of Union Lucky and is now its secretary. Cheung Hing-hoi, a prominent property developer based in Tai Po, was also a president of an association for businessmen in the New Territories and the honorary president of New Territories Realty Association.