Councils welcome flying fox decision

QUEENSLAND'S Shadow Environment Minister Jackie Trad says the LNP has declared "open killing season" on threatened and endangered flying foxes in "passing the buck" to councils.

But the state's councils have welcomed the trust placed in them to make difficult decisions about flying fox roosts causing problems in their urban areas as they see fit.

The Queensland Government has given councils the power to move flying fox roosts, modify or remove them from designated urban areas through an 'as of right' authority.

Farmers who can show they have suffered economic loss from flying fox damage must still apply for state-issued damage mitigation permits to shoot the problem animals.

Ms Trad said allowing local councils to make their own "random decisions"on the management of flying fox roosts was about the LNP absolving itself of its environmental responsibilities to manage the protected species.

"There are very stringent, environmentally responsible measures in place for the humane management of flying fox colonies," Ms Trad said.

"What the Newman government has said today by telling councils they can now take over this area themselves is: Get out your guns.

"They will no longer have to follow the strict guidelines which allow councils to undertake such measures as using light and noise and, in some cases, smoke to move colonies on when they are a problem for local communities.

"The government has taken us back to a dark age where it's OK for marauding crowds beating on saucepans with wooden spoons to frighten these animals away, endangering their young.

"I'm also sure that everyone understands that living with a flying fox roost can be an ordeal for any community.

"But everyone also understands that flying foxes are critical to our rainforests, koala habitats and Queensland's biodiversity."

The smell, noise, economic loss and risks to public health from flying foxes, and the LNP's decision to allow some farmers to shoot the pests, has generated much debate in the past year.

Environment Minister Andrew Powell said the government was putting the health and well-being of communities ahead of problem flying fox colonies.

He said the new measures meant councils did not have to apply for state-issued permits but they must still  make decisions consistent with an agreed Code of Practice and related laws.

"Councils will be able to respond more rapidly and proactively to community concerns," he said.

Local Government Association of Queensland president Margaret de Wit said the LGAQ was keen to work with the government to ensure the proposed Code of Practice governing the new management arrangements reflected the interests of councils and their local communities.

"It is good that the government has recognised local government has a major role to play in responsible flying fox management and should be trusted to get on with the job of properly serving their communities without having to worry about things like damage mitigation permits,'' she said.

"However, there are now some important issues to work through with the minister, such as the question of the state's responsibility over land it owns or controls as well as liability concerns.''

Councils can still apply for damage mitigation permits outside the designated urban areas in each region.

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