I’ve just heard from the Environmental Health Officer (EHO) who has been looking into the most recent problem with flies in the village. She has responded directly to the seven residents who have contacted her office.
- It looks as though the poultry farm on Green Lane was the source of the flies, despite the farmer having complied with the larvicide regime.
- Environmental Health Officers currently think that the combination of young birds in the sheds and the extreme temperatures last week led to the fly problem.
- Further treatments have been carried out at the farm to reduce the number of flies.
- The EHOs request that people monitor the fly levels and update her directly (firstname.lastname@example.org).
This is the full report:
We originally started receiving complaints from residents on the 20 June advising us of an increase in fly levels. At the same time we have also been closely monitoring the ‘Feniton Focus’ Facebook page and we were able to pull together information which suggested that there was more of an issue in properties on the Green Lane side of the village. My colleague also collected fly samples from residents last week and these were identified as Common Housefly (CHF). As I have already advised some residents in the past, CHF find good breeding areas in and around domestic waste, poultry and dairy farms, stables and other sources of rotting plant or animal matter.
My enquiries started with the poultry farm on Green Lane as it is the closest source and the breeding area is big enough to produce a large scale fly problem if not managed properly.
Since the fly issue at the farm in 2015, the farmer has put together a more robust treatment regime which includes the regular use of a larvicide on the manure. A series of programmed treatments are carried out in the early stages of the flock cycle whilst the birds are young and producing droppings with a higher moisture content.
As the birds get older, their droppings are not as runny and a better crust forms on the surface of the manure which makes it harder for the flies to penetrate and lay their eggs; there needs to be a certain moisture content to allow good fly development.
On discovery of water getting into the manure from leaks or water ingress, then a more concentrated treatment is usually put down in that area of the manure and monitored regularly. This method has been adopted by most farmers in East Devon now including the poultry farm on Green Lane.
Both the farmer and Feniton residents confirmed an improvement for 2016 with the new treatment system in place.
During my visit last week, the farmer confirmed that he has carried out the same treatment programme as last year, but did notice an increase in fly levels himself literally days before the next programmed treatment was due to take place (at the beginning of last week). We would suggest the reason for this recent emergence so soon after the last treatment was due to the recent high temperatures helping to accelerate the fly development process within the fresh manure; the higher the temperatures, the faster the fly develops from egg to adult. Therefore after last weekend, the treatment was carried out as planned and included a ‘knockdown’ insecticide to kill any flies which did emerge from the manure – this was all applied before my visit on Wednesday. I inspected the pit within the shed and there were dead flies on the surface of the manure which indicated that the knock down treatment had been applied and was doing its job.
I saw a low level of fly activity within the pit of the shed and the packing room during my visit which did not fall within the normal criteria of a poultry unit generating a major fly infestation.
However, due to the close proximity of the complainants to the farm, it is likely that residents were affected by the same emergence of flies as the farm last week. As always, we will need residents to continue to monitor fly levels as part of the next stage of the investigation; if there has been an issue at the farm which has/is affecting residents, these levels should drop in accordance with the farm’s treatments and monitoring of the shed.
I understand from some residents’ emails that they feel monitoring and collecting flies does not accomplish anything, but without us identifying the fly and fly levels we are not in a position to visit any potential source and carry out an inspection.
We have in the past received complaints where the householder has collected 10 flies in a week and we do not see this as a nuisance. Other cases can involve any number of flies from 50 to 500 stuck to a paper or swept up over a week and these are the cases we concentrate on and ask the resident to monitor. Without this evidence we are unable to investigate and bring the fly issue under control quickly. The level of flies and the duration of time someone is being affected is key to any nuisance investigation. Our main aim when we start receiving these kinds of figures is to make sure the problem is brought under control and that usually means an urgent visit to the nearest source to see if there are any issues. We then stay in close contact with the source until the problem is brought under control. If the fly levels are going down at the source and so are the levels at the resident’s property and we have the same species of fly, we can pretty much say we have proven the link between the two.
If in the instance where the source refuses to carry out the works or they have not exercised ‘Best Practical Means’, then we are in a better position to start legal proceedings. We have to make sure the link is proven and the source is unable to provide a defence of ‘Reasonable Excuse’.
If a business is prosecuted for breaching the notice and found guilty, they will receive a financial penalty, neither the courts nor the Council have the power to shut a business down.
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