Bats dispersal bid weeks away
A FEW weeks.
That’s how long the Maclean community may have to wait while an application to disperse the flying foxes from near the Maclean High School is considered by the Department of Environment Climate Change and Water (DECCW).
Though many flying foxes remain at the reserve, most of them have left of their own volition, according to a Department of Education and Training (DET) source.
A DECCW statement confirmed yesterday the department had received an application from the DET to disperse the flying foxes and had since sought further details on the proposal.
“Once all the information is received from DET the DECCW will need to consider the application and this would be expected to take no more than a few weeks,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker thanked the 4300 people who signed a petition in support of his Private Member’s Bill on the issue.
The Bill, due to be tabled in Federal Parliament this week, seeks to provide emergency powers to the Environment Minister to approve the removal of species where there is a public health risk.
Mr Hartsuyker collected petitions from small businesses on the weekend, including the Spar Supermarket, where more than 1500 signatures were collected.
“Residents from the Lower Clarence have spoken and the time has come for them to be heard,” Mr Hartsuyker said.
“It reflects the depth of feeling in the community and it also serves to show how out-of-touch the Federal and State governments have been on this matter.
“The bureaucratic obstacles are starting to wane but it is important that we remain vigilant on this issue. Just because some of the bats have moved on, does not mean this issue is resolved.
“I acknowledge the Department of Education application for a licence to remove the bats. And I welcome the fact that the bureaucrats are indicating an expensive environment study on the bats is not necessary.
“What was next to impossible at the end of last year is now a possibility. However, the concern here is the Federal Minister for the Environment will delay making a response and hide behind the environment legislation
“That is why I want him to have the emergency powers to remove the bats on public health grounds.”
Mr Hartsuyker said the Member for Page Janelle Saffin continued to flip-flop on the issue.
“She says a licence application for dispersal should be lodged but she also says relocating the school is a possible long-term solution,” the Member for Cowper said.