A federal parliamentary inquiry has heard the Eurobodalla community’s concerns about the management of flying foxes based on its experience with camps in Batemans Bay this year.
The Standing Committee on the Environment and Energy inquiry is investigating the management of nationally-protected flying foxes in the eastern states of Australia.
Council made a written submission to the committee based on its and the community’s experience when Batemans Bay’s flying fox population swelled to over half the national population in April.
The submission lists impacts to affected residents such as noise, odour, faeces and health risks and states that residents made it clear a reduced quality of lifestyle due to flying foxes was not acceptable.
Council made 16 recommendations in its submission, including for a shift in focus from managing flying foxes to managing the impacts of flying foxes to provide needed relief to affected residents. Other recommendations emphasised the need for more research into social and health impacts of living near a flying fox camp and more support for councils to respond to critical incidents.
Eurobodalla Mayor Liz Innes was also invited to address the committee at a roundtable discussion with CSIRO and government representatives, the Threatened Species Commissioner, flying fox ecologists and the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens about management activities and requirements.
Clr Innes said her focus was on representing the community and the impacts that flying foxes had, which could not be understated. The group discussed the ecology, behaviour and distribution of flying foxes, the regulations and processes, management actions and possible solutions.
She said that while further research was recommended by members of the inquiry, government and agencies must also be willing to take action.
“While Council welcomed the support of both the NSW and Australian governments, our unique case highlighted the need to remove duplication of the approval process,” she said.
“It also identified the need for consistency across the country and more tools and methods for councils to act promptly in critical situations.”
Other issues raised in Council’s submission included the power failures and subsequent phone and internet outages that put the community at risk, restrictions to aircraft and economic impacts to local businesses, tourism and private property.
The submissions were centred on the committee’s terms of reference, which are available at www.aph.gov.au/flyingfoxes. The Committee is aiming to finalise the inquiry early in the new year. Media Release