The Red Head Villages Association has voted to censure eight Shoalhaven City Councillors who opposed a buyback of unburnt forest in Manyana slated for a 182-home housing development.
The motion was put forward at the association's Ordinary General Meeting on April 3 by Manyana Matters Environmental Association.
In a survey of members conducted by the association in 2020, 85.5 per cent of respondents expressed opposition to the housing development.
But when a motion was put before council on December 8 2020 to provide in principle support for a buyback of the land, eight out of the 13 councillors voted against it.
NSW Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, Rob Stokes, had previously written to Shoalhaven City Council seeking support for a buyback of the land slated for development.
According to the association, developer, Ozy Homes, has indicated a willingness to consider selling the land to the NSW Government.
Moved by member Peter Winkler and seconded by President Bill Eger, the motion thanked Mayor Amanda Findley and the four other councillors who supported the buyback and censured the remaining eight for refusing to support the will of the community.
“As our campaign to save this precious piece of unburnt forest continues, I feel it is important that the record shows those who have helped us, and those who have opposed us,” Mr Eger said.
“Why should we allow these councillors to continue to obstruct the conservation of this block without condemnation from this community?'
Mayor Amanda Findley and Councillors Kaye Gartner, John Levett, Annette Alldrick and Nina Digiglio supported the buyback.
Councillors Patricia White, Mark Kitchener, Bob Proudfoot, Greg Watson, Mitchell Pakes, Andrew Guile, John Wells and Joanna Gash opposed the buyback
Mr Eger is also a volunteer rural firefighter who fought the Currowan Fire over the summer of 2019/20.
Since early 2020, Mr Eger and fellow community members from the five villages have been lobbying all levels of government to stop the clearing of the mature forest through a buy-back of the land.
The 20.2 hectare forest, surrounded by the Conjola National Park, is one of the few local areas untouched by the bushfires. It is a rich ecosystem of old trees, hollows and littoral rainforest that has become a refuge for wildlife that escaped the flames, and a source of regeneration for burnt bushland.
The Community Consultative Body represents the five villages of Manyana, Cunjurong Point, Berringer, Bendalong and North Bendalong.