Stokes to discuss NSW land clearing halt

Heather McNabAAP
Planning Minister Rob Stokes is being lobbied to stop land clearing on the NSW South Coast.
Camera IconPlanning Minister Rob Stokes is being lobbied to stop land clearing on the NSW South Coast.

NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes will attend an urgent meeting with a South Coast property developer following a push to halt land clearing in the bushfire-ravaged region.

Residents of Manyana have been protesting plans by Ozy Homes to raze 20 hectares of unburnt mature growth forest to make way for nearly 180 housing lots.

They are opposed to the development given so much local bushland has recently been burned.

Ozy Homes was due to start clearing the forest in Manyana last week but agreed to pause work following the outcry, community group Manyana Matters said in a statement on Monday.

An urgency motion for a moratorium on land clearing on the South Coast, put to Shoalhaven City Council last week by mayor Amanda Findley, was passed easily.

If the report required by the motion is supported at this Tuesday's council meeting urgent representations will be put to Mr Stokes.

The council wants the planning minister to halt logging until there is a better understanding of the ecological impacts of the fires in the area.

Mr Stokes has agreed to attend an online meeting on Wednesday morning.

A representative of Ozy Homes and Ms Findley are also due to attend the meeting which will be moderated by upper house Greens MP David Shoebridge.

The community wants to preserve the bush site for regeneration of the neighbouring Conjola National Park and as a safe haven for vulnerable wildlife.

"The Manyana Beach Estate is a project that was approved by the NSW government more than a decade ago," Manyana Matters spokeswoman Jorj Lowrey said in a statement on Monday.

"There is currently no provision in legislation to have the Environmental Impact Statement for this project reviewed in light of the devastation caused by this summer's bushfires. That's just not right.

"Minister Stokes has the opportunity to rectify this situation now for the benefit of this bushfire-affected community."

Approval for the project was granted in 2008, meaning Mr Stokes or the secretary of the planning department are only able to issue a stop-work order if a condition of consent is breached.

The minister on Monday said he'd instructed the department to "keep a close eye on compliance as work commences".

"(I) will not hesitate to order a 'stop work' in the event of the most minor breach," Mr Stokes said in a statement.

"I completely understand the community's concerns - particularly given the devastating impact of the bushfires in the area.

"Unfortunately it was the former Labor government that approved these plans for blanket urban sprawl replacing pristine bushland along an iconic coastline."

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