Thousands of red flying foxes roosting in trees in Kabra in 2014.
Thousands of red flying foxes roosting in trees in Kabra in 2014. Chris Ison ROK050214cbats6

Rocky Council amends policy to move bats more easily

FLYING fox colonies will now be able to be better managed in the Rockhampton region.

Councillors at yesterday's Planning and Regulatory Committee meeting voted to update Council's policy towards managing flying fox colonies.

The changes will allow Council to assist in managing fly fox roosts in schools, childcare centres and other highly sensitive areas.

All present councillors were unanimous in voting for the policy changes which will go to next week's ordinary Council meeting.

All local government Councils across Queensland are bound by strict legislation that only allows them to manage flying fox roosts in urban areas defined by Queensland government.

Urban areas do include Gracemere, Bouldercombe, West Rockhampton, Wandal, Depot Hill, Lakes Creek, Frenchville, Norman Gardens, Parkhurst and The Caves.

When roosts are outside these areas, the affected landholder has to apply for a state government permit before Council can help.

Westwood and Kabra are not classified as urban areas according to the Queensland Government Department Environment and Heritage Protection.

In February earlier this year, the Westwood community was struck by an estimated 45,000 bats roosting in the small town.

Thousands of the wild animals took up residence near the town's school.

Council was severely limited due to state legislation on how they could assist and get the bats moved on.

A permit under state nature conservation laws for additional, non-lethal management was required, which is a timely and complex process.

Planning and Regulatory Committee Chair Councillor Ellen Smith said the proposed changes for the policy this week was about making things easier for both the community and council.

"When you have a situation like we did at Westwood earlier this year, we know that the permit system can be a time-consuming process for landholders," Cr Smith said.

"The time we have to wait to get permits through is very, very frustrating for Council as well as the community and we hope to improve.

"The change we're proposing to our policy would allow us to work directly with those in highly sensitive areas on state and private land, like childcare centres and schools, to potentially provide more assistance more quickly that if they apply for a permit.

"It allows us to do more for our communities.

"To help our sensitive areas that can be impacted... it allows for us to liaise with people a lot quicker for them."

The second proposed change is for Council to provide immediate help to the affected community through supplying bottled drinking water, removing unsafe branches and mulching damaged trees.

"Again, this allows us to be more proactive in delivering help to those areas when they need it and cuts the red tape in a stressful situation," Cr Smith said.

The changes proposed are for the Statement of Management Intent for Flying Fox Roosts.

Rockhampton Regional Council has authority to manage flying fox roosts in defined urban areas under the Nature Conservation Act 1992.