SCOUTS Australia NSW is pressing ahead with plans to sell 5.6 hectares of pristine bushland at Bundeena adjoining the Royal National Park.
Scouts has rejected pledges of $300,000 from the community, which wants to purchase the land for conservation.
Instead, the land is expected to be sold to a private party, which is believed to be proposing eco-tourism accommodation for the site.
The land, at Spring Gully, was gifted to Scouts Australia NSW in the 1960s for use as a camping ground.
Because there was no road into the area it was never used and remained in its pristine natural state.
Scouts Australia NSW advertised the land for sale in late February and Bundeena residents formed the Spring Gully Protection Group with a view to securing pledges in order to buy the land.
Spring Gully Protection Group spokesman Mark Da Silva said: ‘‘We secured firm pledges from the community ranging from $10,000 to $20,000 and contacted the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife.’’
The foundation — an independent non-profit organisation — acquires high conservation-value land to gift to Australia’s publicly owned national parks and protected areas.
The Bundeena community, with the support of the foundation, proposed raising $300,000 in six months to purchase the land, which was to then be included in the Royal National Park.
Mr Da Silva said he believed the winning bidder offered $325,000 for the land.
Scouts Australia NSW said it offered the property in 2012 to both the Royal National Park ‘‘as well as to local neighbours’’ for purchase but no offer was made.
The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service confirmed Scouts Australia NSW had informed it the land was for sale.
The property was advertised for sale by an agent in the area for the past four months.
Expressions of interest were sought and all proposals were taken to the Scouts Australia NSW property committee for review to make a recommendation to the board.
Scouts Australia NSW property manager Jane Samuel said: ‘‘Scouts Australia NSW made its assessment on the best offer for the interest of Scouts that also aligned with strict local council guidelines that are imposed for the usage of this site’’.
A local man believed to be the successful bidder confirmed a sale had not been finalised. But an offer had been accepted.
‘‘There have been multiple proposals sent to Scouts NSW,’’ he said. ‘‘Ours was not the highest bid. They have made a decision on which they want to go forward with.
‘‘If a sale is going to be established, then would be a time to talk about our plans.
‘‘We believe that ours is a sustainable plan that would be the best for the community.
‘‘I am not a developer. I am a local resident with a dream and I hope to make it come true.
‘‘An Office of Environment and Heritage Conservation Agreement will be created for the larger part of this property. I also want to conserve for the future.’’
Mr Da Silva said the group would ask the NSW Environment Minister to intervene.
‘‘We are concerned the new owner would have to clear approximately one hectare of the land to create an asset protection zone required by the building code for bushfire-prone land,’’ he said.
‘‘It is a beautiful bushland setting with a forest of angophoras, stands of mallee bloodwood and cabbage tree palms, banksia, lilli pilli, sedge grasses and Sydney freshwater wetland.
‘‘This is typical of the vegetation that covered all of Port Hacking and in this day and age I think it is time we kept the little of what we have left.’’
What do you think should happen with the land?