Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon has continued his call for a Senate inquiry into flying foxes, saying it would give political momentum to serious situation.
Mr Fitzgibbon met with residents on Wednesday at East Cessnock, where an estimated 30,000 bats have taken up residence.
Cindy Jeffery has lived in Long Street for 16 years and said the bat colony is now the biggest she has seen it.
“It’s gotten thicker and thicker,” she said.
“We can’t have our doors and windows open because of the smell, and we can’t hang our washing outside.”
Mrs Jeffery’s mother-in-law Pamela has lived across the road for 50 years, and now has thousands of bats just metres from her back fence.
“We can’t have visitors at night, they don’t want their cars pooped on,” she said.
“My roof’s peppered in it; I’m forever cleaning my concrete and walls.”
Grey-headed flying foxes are a native species and are protected in Australia.
The animals are natural pollinators and seed dispersers, crucial for the survival and regeneration of native forests; and are also important for local honey production.
Along with Cessnock, bat-affected Hunter suburbs include Singleton, Lorn and Blackalls Park.
Mr Fitzgibbon said there has to be a way to continue to protect flying foxes while making sure affected residents can live in a decent environment.
He said the Senate inquiry would provide the opportunity for Parliament to question the “appropriate experts” about the science regarding the flying foxes’ status as a threatened species.
Meanwhile, Cessnock City Council resolved at Wednesday night’s meeting to take a lead role and develop a flying fox camp management plan for East Cessnock.
The bat colony has recently expanded from NSW Crown Land on Old Maitland Road to a council-owned reserve on Anzac Avenue.
The council will collaborate with the Office of Environment and Heritage, Department of Crown Lands and other state agencies to develop the plan.
It will seek grant funding to prepare the plan; will write to the relevant state and federal ministers and will express its support for Mr Fitzgibbon’s call for a Senate inquiry.
Cr Morgan Campbell accused the State Government of “callous indifference” in its handling of the council’s previous requests about the bats.
“Council can’t afford to wait for the government to do it’s job any more,” he said.
Cr Ian Olsen said there was no quick fix because the bats are a protected species, but that something must be done.
“We can’t sit on our hands and do nothing,” he said.
“People must come before bats.”
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