Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon says the parliamentary inquiry into flying foxes has drawn attention to a “serious and difficult issue”.
The Standing Committee on the Environment and Energy agreed to conduct a short inquiry into the protection and management of flying foxes this month, at Mr Fitzgibbon’s request.
Hunter towns including Cessnock, Singleton and Maitland – and many other towns on the eastern seaboard – have been impacted by thousands of the flying creatures over the past few summers.
“The inquiry has been helpful in bringing to the attention of Members the seriousness of the problem,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.
“Sadly, it also highlighted how difficult an issue it is.”
The committee held a public hearing on Thursday. Representatives of the Department of the Environment and Energy, the Threatened Species Commissioner, the CSIRO, flying-fox ecologists, Eurobodalla Shire Council, the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney and Ecosure spoke at the roundtable.
The inquiry received 63 public submissions.
Mr Fitzgibbon will meet with committee chair Andrew Broad and other committee members this week to discuss possible recommendations.
“I was delighted that local residents and Cessnock and other councils made submissions,” he said.
Cessnock City Council’s planning and environment director Gareth Curtis said the public hearing was a positive experience for the council contingent in attendance.
Mr Curtis said they had a brief conversation with Mr Broad after the meeting and raised the issue of community health and wellbeing.
Mr Curtis said council will be “waiting with bated breath” for the committee’s report, which is expected to be complete in early 2017.
Cessnock Council is in the early stages of forming a management plan for the flying fox camp in East Cessnock, which grew to an estimated 30,000 bats last summer.
“It’s important that we go into the management plan with our eyes open,” Mr Curtis said.
Watch the video of the roundtable here.
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