By BELINDA F SCOTT
COFFS Creek flying fox camp may contain one-eighth of Australia's population of grey-headed flying foxes, but that is cold comfort to the residents living with the smelly, squabbling animals.
Coffs Harbour City Council released its Draft Coffs Creek Flying Fox Camp Strategy on Friday and Gallipoli Road resident Gillian Hobson said yesterday the actions suggested to residents to help them deal with the problems created by the animals (see Page 5) were either impractical or financially impossible for one-income families with a mortgage.
"It costs about $3000 for an el-cheapo carport and $2670 a square metre for double glazing ? how the hell could we afford that?" Mrs Hobson said.
"When you have little kids, dragging a cover over your washing is the last thing you think of." She said flying fox droppings were the best paint-stripper she had ever seen, able to strip a car back to bare metal and they 'set like concrete'. Residents of West Coffs Harbour are reaping the results of years of unfortunate decisions about their area.
That is the unavoidable conclusion from reading the Draft Coffs Creek Flying Fox Strategy.
In the past few years record numbers of flying foxes of three different species have been crowding into the camp, apparently to escape the devastating drought. At the same time new houses are being built around the perimeter of the camp, which has now spilled over into other sections of the town, north of Donn Patterson Drive.
A decision in 1992 to approve the area containing the flying fox camp for residential development by the NSW Department of Housing was followed by the sale of the site to a private developer, which led to the construction of McCarthy Park Estate and Narranga Gardens, where some residents are now living cheek by jowl with large numbers of flying foxes, as are residents of Oriana and Gundagai streets.
At a council meeting on February 15, Cr Jennifer Bonfield, whose own home is severely affected by flying foxes, said council was dealing with an issue which was a consequence of development and asked if in future council could consider the consequences when it was looking at the development of en globo land.
A public meeting at the Catholic Club on February 17 attracted 250 people to the first gathering of a new lobby group, Concerned Residents About Flying Foxes Inc., which wants to see the bats moved.
The group's president is Adelines Way resident Wes Hardie.
A foundation member of the new group, Red Cedar Drive resident Bob Steer, said the group already had a mailing list of 450 people and planned to run candidates at the next council elections.
Mr Steer, a long-time member of a council committee looking at the flying fox problems, said the group was costing the expense involved in carrying out all the mitigation measures suggested to residents in the council's new report.
He said the drought was being used an excuse not to deal with the expansion of the colony and dismissed the council draft strategy as 'complete and utter stupidity'.