Compromise is the keyword coming from a group of residents regarding a proposed development in Manyana.
Residents, for the past two days, have been gathering outside one of the last remaining pockets of bushland untouched by the summer fires in the Shoalhaven, hoping the development would be delayed,
They want the clearing to be delayed until the surrounding bush recovers.
However, they would be happier if the development did not go ahead at all.
Manyana Matters, a local community group, have been leading the campaign.
The residents, following COVCID 19 protocols, gathered outside the development site near the Sunset Strip and Berringer Road area on Monday and Tuesday to stage what they called up a passive but active protest.
On Tuesday they were joined by Shoalhaven Mayor Amanda Findley and inspectors from the NSW Department of Planning.
The Planning Department representatives will be making sure the compliance guidelines, as work commences, are followed.
Manyana Matters spokesperson, Jorj Lowrey, says the block needs to be saved.
She said the original environmental study was carried out in 2006 and then owners showed 'physical development' before sitting on the project.
Ms Lowrey and members of the Manyana Matters say now in 2020 the old legislation should not apply given the huge loss of native bush.
"If there's one thing that we make happen out of this campaign is this legislation must be changed," she said.
"You should not be able to land bank it and then people get left with an out of date style project that's no longer viable when something far more appropriate could have been done."
Mayana Matters has reached out to the developers, Ozy Homes, seeking compromise.
Ms Lowrey said one compromise would have been to make the blocks bigger.
The developer, Ozy Homes, is acting in full compliance with the law in relation to the commencement and construction of stage one, according to a spokesperson.
"All works scheduled have been approved by council and other relevant departments and will be carried out strictly in accordance with these approvals," the spokesperson said.
"Biodiversity and environmental issues have been managed in accordance with the approvals and current requirements and will further be under the supervision of experienced ecologist."
A detailed statement from Ozy Homes appears below.
Meanwhile, Ms Lowrey said a development in Berry, where blocks were bigger and less bush cleared, could have been the model to follow.
Residents feel Manyana will never be the same again.
"This development will double the size of Manyana and will completely change the village. It no longer will be a remote coastal village - it's going to be a suburban area," Ms Lowrey said.
When fire tore through the area on New Year's Eve, the local Rural Fire Service volunteers and other firefighters stood firm and saved the block and the village from destruction.
"They put their lives on the line," Ms Lowery said.
She added it was heartbreaking for the firefighters to see the area they saved about to be destroyed.
COVID-19 has not helped the residents with their campaign.
"We called for a moratorium on all clearing in bushfire affected areas in NSW and we made a petition it had to be done the old school way with the hand signatures," Ms Lowery said.
"Now in a couple of weeks, this community got nearly 2000 signatures.
"We sent that off and Greens MP David Shoebridge and presented it in NSW Parliament.
"It was tabled successfully and we did receive a response from the planning minister.
"However, the next step was that he had to make a Notice of Motion - so it would be discussed in Parliament.
"Of course COVID-19 happened and when Parliament shut shop and our petition was left in limbo. It hasn't been discussed, debated or addressed."
The abundance of flora and fauna is a key reason why they want the block saved.
"In here, Birdlife Shoalhaven told us just within the one-kilometre radius 84 different species of birds have been recorded," Ms Lowery said.
"This includes the endangered powerful owl, the swift parrot comes here to feed and we have ground parrots right here in our backyard."
Other species include glossy black cockatoos, reptiles, yellow-bellied gliders and more.
With COVID-19 Manyana Matters' physical presence is limited but online via social media they have huge numbers of followers.
With many people struggling to cope with things like the pandemic, they are calling for a moratorium on all clearing of bush in NSW.
"A moratorium would buy us time to, to take a breath to for people to actually deal with their post-traumatic stress disorders, to find employment to regroup and look after their mental health," the Manyana Matters spokesperson said.
"This is the last thing this community needs right now.
"The government has the power to purchase the land and gift it back to the community."
The campaign continues and residents won't be going away fast.
More from the developer
Ozy Homes says the community is free to protest.
"People are free to protest, but the project has been approved for some time and the community is well aware of it," the spokesperson said.
"It was scheduled to start in December but we delayed it due to the terrible bushfires that hit the region.
"We have since assessed the surrounding area, effects of the bushfire to the environment, the regrowth of the surrounding area and have scheduled only stage one of the subdivision to commence."In total there are six stages."
The company, since the social media protest, has had numerous people/companies calling and email seeking work opportunities.T
he company also issued this detailed statement with more background information.
Ozy Homes Pty Ltd is the developer of the property in Cunjurong Road Manyana, which was approved in 2008 by the NSW State Government for a residential subdivision creating 182 lots over six stages.
In 2019, Shoalhaven City Council issued a Construction Certificate for stage one works.
Ozy Homes was in the process of preparing to commence construction prior to Christmas in 2019.
However, due to environmental obligations and the significant impacts of the devastating bushfires in the area, Ozy Homes decided to delay construction of Stage One for a period of three months.
This three-month period will finish in early May 2020.
During the three-month delay process, Ozy Homes arranged the installation of 108 native fauna nest boxes, both onsite and offsite, as part of our effort to protect native animals that may live on the site, so they could be re-homed.
This work has been monitored by our ecologists. Once clearing of stage one commences, around May 6 2020, the removal of any hollow-bearing trees within stage one will also be closely monitored by our ecologists.
Ozy Homes is acting in full compliance with the law in relation to the commencement and construction of stage one.
All required approvals are in place and have been for some time.
Nevertheless, Ozy Homes' contractors are fully briefed on the social and environmental sensitivities associated with the construction of the subdivision and will ensure that all requirements and environmental safeguards set out in the development consent and subsequent expert reports are strictly adhered to.
Ozy Homes will have a complaint procedure in place for all genuine concerns raised by concerned locals and others.
Have your say
In order to clarify Ozy Homes intentions, please note:
- The clearing works scheduled to commence around 6 May 2020 are confined to stage one of the project only
- Construction of stages two to six of the project have been delayed indefinitely
- Timber from the clearing works in Stage one will be recycled where possible, to supplement local supplies diminished by the bushfires
- The economic activity stimulated by the construction of stage one and subsequent construction of dwellings are essential to stimulate the local area and provide jobs, following the devastation of the bushfires and the impacts of the lockdown associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.