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Residents attempt to stall land clearing for a development on bushfire ravaged south coast


Feb. 12, 2020

Residents on the New South Wales South Coast want land clearing for a housing development on an unburned pocket of land to be stalled in the wake of the bushfire emergency.
Key points:
A Greens MP says there is a risk of civil unrest if residents' concerns about land clearing on the South Coast are not addressed
A Sydney-based company received approval to clear 70 hectares of bushland between Manyana and Bendalong before the fire crisis
Locals have submitted a petition to the NSW Government calling for a moratorium on clearing in fire-impacted areas
Sydney-based company Ozy Homes received the final approval prior to Christmas to start clearing some 70 hectares of bushland between Manyana and Bendalong, to make way for a new housing estate.
Manyana homeowner Colin Beszant said the remaining bush in the area is vital for native flora and fauna, after fires devastated the area on New Year's Eve and destroyed dozens of homes in neighbouring villages.
"It's a refuge for wildlife," Mr Beszant said.
Moratorium on land clearing
According to the company's website, 13 of 30 lots have already been sold off the plan in stage one of the project, and there are five more stages to follow.
Greens MP David Shoebridge, who visited the villages after the fires, is petitioning the NSW Government to put a moratorium on land clearing in areas where a bushfire emergency was declared.
Mr Shoebridge said he is concerned that if the Government does not act, locals could take matters into their own hands.
"Unless action is taken in places like Manyana I think we are going to see civil unrest," he said.
A spokeswoman for Planning and Environment Minister Rob Stokes said he had received the petition with hundreds of local signatures and it had been referred to his department for a response.
No schools, one road
The Manyana Beach Estate is one of several new developments proposed for the village, which has a population of 500.
It has no schools and there is only one road in and out of town.
When the Currowan fire swept through the area about 3,000 holidaymakers were trapped in the village for several days without power, fresh food, and in some cases, a place to sleep.
They were helped out of the village under police escort on the afternoon of Friday, January 3.
The Managing Director of Ozy Homes, Ghazi Sangari, also has approval to build a shopping centre in Manyana.
"We have decided to place both Manyana Beach Estate and The Spot shopping centre in Manyana on hold to allow for social and environmental healing", Mr Sangari said in a letter to the community.
The housing blocks remain up for sale and the correspondence in January provided no time line for how long the "healing" would take.
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