Bats at Maclean High School.
Bats at Maclean High School.

Maclean High to lose bat colony

THE way appears to have been cleared for bats to be dispersed from around the Maclean High School next year.

What the Maclean High School P&C Association sees as a breakthrough occurred after a Federal Government department, which could have blocked any dispersal moves, stepped aside if certain conditions were met.

P&C president Lorraine White said she hoped the move meant there would be plans in place to disperse the bats when they arrived next year.

“The Feds (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities) seem to be saying they want it to be a school and not a bat colony,” she said.

“We are happy.

“It means someone has been listening.

“We hope it can run smoothly and not get interrupted by parties who might not like to see it happen.”

Mrs White said there had been fewer flying foxes than initially expected this year, perhaps because persistent rain had taken much of the blossom from trees, leaving little food in the area.

But she wanted to make sure if they returned next year, authorities would have the capacity to disperse them.

The Federal Environment Department’s decision would allow for dispersal between August 1 and October 31 for five years in an area within one hectare of what is known as the school’s western carpark.

Other conditions include that the action must be taken before the grey-headed flying fox colony establishes itself at the site and only when there are fewer than 2500 grey-headed flying foxes present, and that a qualified ecologist with expertise in grey-headed flying foxes must be present. They would have the authority to stop the dispersal if they believed it necessary.

In a letter to the P&C, Member for Page Janelle Saffin said she had always assured the school community that once the Department of Education (DET) made a fresh application, prepared by an appropriately qualified consultant, there was a good chance of a positive outcome.

“While I have been more than happy to provide advice and assistance in this case, future matters of concern should be directed to the Federal Member for Cowper, who has responsibility for representing the town of Maclean,” she said.

A spokesman for the DET said the federal offer of permission to disperse was welcome, and the department would continue to work with the state authority to ensure appropriate dispersal.

“The department will continue to work with local, state and Commonwealth agencies, and with the working party, to address broader issues associated with the flying foxes in the area,” he said.

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