In the latest twist in the battles over land use in Ho Sheung Heung, a plan by Lands Department officials to demolish illegal structures in the village was foiled yesterday after more than 200 people mobilised for a sit-in. The protesters gathered at the Long Yuen Wetlands Farm, where unauthorised structures including two small houses and a pond lie on what used to be an illegal landfill on government and private land that is part of a priority conservation area. Ho Sheung Heung village head Bowie Hau Chi-keung, who organised the rally yesterday, said the two houses had just been completed to replace two others that had been seriously damaged by a typhoon. But some elderly 'protesters', who arrived in groups by coach, said they were unaware of the demonstration, as they had merely been asked to join a free outing and lunch. 'Since I would have company, I decided to join for a walk, I don't know what's going on,' one of the elderly women said. 'They said they would bring us for lunch and a day trip ... and it's free.' Hau, who is also the chairman of Sheung Shui District Rural Committee, said he had not paid anyone to attend the demonstration. 'Of course not. It's voluntary. But the elderly men and women do not want to talk to you, as there is a representative who speaks on their behalf,' he said. Hau Tai-lok, a Ho Sheung Heung resident, said most of the protesters, except for about 10 or 20 people, were not from the village. A Lands Department spokeswoman said the pond and part of one of the unauthorised houses sat on government land. The department planned to remove them yesterday after having posted notices asking those who had built the illegal structures to pull them down, to no avail. The spokeswoman said the owner of the private land had agreed earlier to demolish the rest of the illegal structures on his site yesterday. 'In view of the situation on the scene [yesterday] and after consulting the Home Affairs Department's district office, the Lands Department decided to hold the action. But it will pursue the case,' she said. In July last year, a large area of farmland next to the village school was covered with construction waste and waste from a cemetery. Undersecretary for the environment Dr Kitty Poon Kit said last week the Development Bureau would soon decide on eight applications by landowners for reviews of Planning Department orders to reinstate the farmland covered by the fill. Meanwhile, a vacant school building in the area has been converted into a food store. A Planning Department spokeswoman said that since the area where the school was located was zoned for government, institutional and community use, shops required planning permission. No permit application had been received, she said.