Member for Page bats for Maclean

FEDERAL Member for Page Janelle Saffin has gone into bat for Maclean residents who are angry that the planned dispersal of flying foxes could be stymied.

On Thursday, The Daily Examiner reported that an application by Clarence Valley Council and the New South Wales Department of Education for a licence to disperse bats from a rainforest reserve near Maclean High School and an area known as 'the gully' had hit a stumbling block.

The applicants were advised by the Federal Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts that it considered disturbing bats as a 'controlled action' which required a lengthy and time-consuming environmental impact statement (EIS).

It is feared an EIS could prevent the dispersal of bats for the entire duration of the roosting season, causing residents another season of problems.

Ms Saffin said the local office of the NSW Education Department had raised with her office concerns about the delay.

“They are concerned about delays in approval for the licence that they've had in past years to disperse the bats so they won't settle in the school area,” Ms Saffin said.

“This is a matter for the State and Federal environment departments and I don't see why the previous licensing arrangements can't continue.

“I have agreed to raise the issue with Environment Minister Peter Garrett on behalf of the school community and I'm aware that timing is an issue on this matter.”

Some Maclean residents have said they will move out of their homes if the flying foxes are allowed to return to roost, due to the ongoing problems associated with smell and noise.

A spokesperson said grey-headed flying foxes were vulnerable, any action which impacted on them required approval.

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