SMELLS from above: Dallis Park resident Paul Murphy in front of the local bat colony.
SMELLS from above: Dallis Park resident Paul Murphy in front of the local bat colony.

It stinks

By PETER CATON

Flying fox smell study sparks furore

HAVE Tweed Council's administrators gone batty? That's the question being asked after they voted to spend $20,000 on a study of bat smells near Murwillumbah.

The decision follows a fortnight-long furore over their reluctance to provide lifeguards at Casuarina Beach over the summer holiday season ? a life-saving service which will now cost ratepayers $18,000.

Casuarina Beach residents, who face a possible levy on their rates to pay for future lifeguard patrols, say they're flabbergasted.

And even residents bothered by the fruit bats ? otherwise know as flying foxes ? have questioned the wisdom of the study.

"It's just mind-blowing," said president of the Casuarina Beach Residents Association Julie Bennett yesterday.

The council's three administrators gave the nod to the $20,000 Flying Fox Odour Study as part of a budget review. "What's more important? Bats or people's lives?" asked Mrs Bennett yesterday.

"We would be sympathetic to the people living near the bats, but they are going to be the only ones who will reap the benefits of studying bat smells."

Council health officers have pushed for the study because little else can be done about the huge camp of up to 50,000 flying foxes which settled in trees at Dallis Park, south of Murwillumbah, 14 years ago.

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Both the bats and the trees they are nesting in - and slowly destroying - are protected.

In recent years the bats have moved closer to homes from damaged trees on farmland.

Resident Steve Abram doubts a $20,000 study on the smell of the creatures will help.

"They'd be better puttting $20,000 towards car parking in town," he said. Mr Abram said it seemed the Council wanted to be seen to be doing something but was hamstrung because the bats were protected even though they caused a health, smell and noise problem to people.

"The health and well-being of the residents should be put ahead of the well-being of the bats," he said. Chief administrator Garry Payne was unavailable for comment.



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