Celeb support to save unburnt NSW forest

Actor Claudia Karvan is backing a campaign to halt a forest being felled on the NSW South Coast.
Actor Claudia Karvan is backing a campaign to halt a forest being felled on the NSW South Coast.

A community campaign against plans by a property developer to raze a forest on the bushfire-ravaged NSW South Coast has gained celebrity support - as work resumed to create 180 housing lots.

Residents of Manyana have been protesting plans by Ozy Homes to clear 20 hectares of unburnt mature growth forest.

They oppose the development given so much local bushland has recently been burned.

The campaign gained support from Australian actor Claudia Karvan on Monday.

"It's the last piece of unburnt bush in the whole area - it's a miracle it was saved from the fires," The Secret Life of Us and Love My Way star said in a video posted online by Manyana Matters.

"We urgently need the government to step up and protect what's left."

Ozy Homes was due to start clearing the forest in Manyana earlier in May but paused work following the outcry, Manyana Matters has said.

NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes agreed to an online meeting on May 13 with representatives from Shoalhaven City Council and the developer.

Ozy Homes then sent a letter to the council and the government advising it would halt works until May 25, Shoalhaven mayor Amanda Findley said.

The developer appears to now be pushing ahead with initial works.

"This morning Ozy Homes have made it clear they will ignore that they will be impacting threatened species post-fire and have begun work on the Manyana Beach Estate," Manyana Matters said in a statement on Monday.

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

The department and Shoalhaven council met last week to discuss a potential cost-sharing arrangement to repurchase the land.

But government sources say the council was unwilling to enter such an arrangement or change the site's residential zoning.

"If council are serious about protecting this site they need to negotiate a financial outcome with the developer and then contribute to the costs of a permanent solution," Mr Stokes told AAP in a statement on Monday.

"Council should also agree to facilitate a rezoning to protect the bushland."

Shoalhaven council wrote to Mr Stokes last week asking the NSW government to buy the land for conservation.

"It's not about saving the land for Shoalhaven City - it's about saving the land for the whole of the state," Ms Findley told AAP on Monday.

Manyana Matters has engaged the Environmental Defenders Office to act on its behalf, with letters sent to federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley and the director of Ozy Homes in mid-May.

The community group wants the development referred to Ms Ley for assessment under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act over concerns it could impact a number of threatened species, including the critically endangered swift parrot.

Comment has been sought from Ozy Homes.

Australian Associated Press