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Rats, Traps, Bugs and Cutbacks

If ever there was an argument for councils cutting free pest control for the masses then surely the BBCs Panorama programme on Monday 6th August Rats, Traps, Bugs and Cutbacks was it.

Firstly we had a Southwark Council employed pest controller making numerous visits to put poison down in a rat infested bin store just yards from a defective drain, the rats were shown coming and going at their own leisure from the said drain at ground level, was I the only one shouting `fix the bloody drain` at the TV.

Then we had a lady who lets her rabbit run around the garden dragging straw, hay and no doubt rabbit food with it complaining about rats invading her garden at night and finally a guy keeping chickens or some kind of fowl in a pen at the bottom of the garden getting subsidised pest control visits due to rat problems.

Instead of throwing millions of pounds away on rat baiting how about some basic education on the kind of habits that are likely to attract rats into your home and garden, if people persist in throwing scraps of food on the ground, letting bins overflow or scattering bird seed around then they should be liable for any pest control required and not the tax payers in general.

How about we maintain and repair our drainage and sewer systems so that the majority of rats are contained within the networks and where the available food source will determine the size of the rat population, and where incidentally it would be easier to bait and control them.

Super grease behind drop in Birmingham manhole cover thefts

METAL thieves look to have met their match after the launch of a unique DNA-style grease marker sparked a 75 per cent drop in manhole covers thefts in Birmingham.

The city council and Amey, which holds the local authority’s road maintenance contract, acted in March having seen 900 grates go missing in just six months.
stop manhole theft
The thefts had left the council taxpayer with a £250,000 bill.

But there has been a dramatic fall in the number of gratings taken thanks to a special type of grease, called RedWeb.

It leaves an indelible mark visible only under ultraviolet light on the cover itself and anyone who touches it.

In the three months before the launch of the RedWeb grease, 32 gully grates were taken from roads in five wards in the north of the city.

That fell to just eight in the same area in the three months since the introduction of the product

Sergeant Phil Butler, from West Midlands Police’s Operation Steel which targets metal theft, said: “We have been delighted to see a reduction in reported metal theft.

“Improved marking of target materials reduces crime as it’s far easier for police to prove theft and handling beyond a reasonable doubt.’’

Amey Business director John Sunderland said: “We are thrilled that we have had such an instant result with the new product that we are using to deter thieves and this is just the beginning.

“Theft of metal, such as gully covers, from the roads is not a victimless crime as open gully covers are extremely dangerous.”

Amey has also trialed composite recycled plastic covers with no resale value as replacements for the stolen metal covers.

The plastic covers can also be sealed in to prevent further vandalism or theft.

Coun James McKay, cabinet member for a green, safe and smart city, said: “This is a great result for partnership working and sends a stark message to thieves.

“We will simply not tolerate them stealing metal from our roads and putting people’s lives at risk.”

Flood risk to millions in UK is growing

MILLIONS of property owners face an increased risk from flooding because of climate change and urban sprawl, experts have warned.

 New research shows up to two million people in the UK – including almost 130,000 Scots – are at risk of flooding because they live in built-up areas where there is limited drainage and less grass and woodland to soak up rainfall.

The research, carried out at Dundee University and to be presented to the Royal Geographical Society this week, predicts that unless planners take climate change into account, the threat could rise by around 50 per cent to affect 3.2 million by 2050.

The flood risk warnings have emerged following Met Office confirmation that April to June 2012 has been the wettest on record. Last week, parts of England were over-run by flash floods, and rail services to Scotland cut off after landslips on both the east and west coast mainlines. Yesterday, services between Edinburgh and London were still being restricted but rail chiefs said the timetable should be back to normal today.

The Dundee research says climate change is leading to greater rainfall, while a growing population and, in particular, more people moving to cities is triggering greater urbanisation.

Dr Alastair Geddes, of Dundee University, said: “We will see more people exposed by living in areas of risk because of strong population growth.

“There are two main trends – population growth and climate change. However, we can’t take account of how planners will work to change drainage systems.

“It’s important to take action on that. That’s what we hope will come out of this work.”

The researchers initially looked at 44 cities across the UK, including Edinburgh and Glasgow, and then examined three more closely.

In Glasgow, one of the three, they found that 63,927 people are currently at risk of flooding from heavy rainfall – 5.5 per cent.

Across Scotland 2.6 per cent of the urban population was found to be at risk, while across the UK as a whole it was 3.3 per cent.

Surprise visitor: squatting wombat blocks stormwater pipe

There are many things that could block a stormwater drain. But a wombat?

blocked rain water drain

Imagine the surprise on the faces of the people at the Launceston City Council when they stumbled across a furry critter while viewing video from a stormwater pipe survey recently.

The shy little squatter was discovered by engineering development officer Sonia Smith, The Examiner reports.

Ms Smith said that one of the tasks council asked developers to undertake when building a new subdivision was to ensure all their stormwater pipes were working.

“They do that by conducting a remote video camera survey, and they then send the videos into us,” Ms Smith said.

“The equipment they use is basically a remote controlled camera, driven by a joystick.

“Sometimes in these videos you see the odd rat or spider, but this is the first time I’ve seen a wombat.”

Ms Smith said the wombat found his or her way into the pipe because it was open at one end.

“It’s a 300mm pipe, which is the smallest we use, but it appears that it might be a perfect size for a wombat burrow,” she said.

Ms Smith said the wombat will be respectfully nudged on to a new burrow and access to the pipe will be blocked.

Anglian Water: helping the drain take the strain

Keep it Clear campaign saw sewer blockages fall by more than 80% in Peterborough, and is now being rolled out to other towns

Anglian Water

Anglian Water’s Keep it Clear campaign worked with community leaders to help change people’s behaviour. Photograph: Anglian Water
Our sewer system is under strain as many of us use sinks and toilets to get rid of all manner of unflushable items. Cooking oil ends up in our drains along with items such as cotton buds and baby wipes, leading to unpleasant greasy blockages that can cause sewers to overflow. The blockages are costing Anglian Water alone £7m a year.

The costs are not just financial but also environmental. When blocked sewers overflow into a river, it reduces the oxygen in the water and can affect wildlife. It also increases carbon emissions because of the additional energy required to treat the waste.

So great is the problem that Anglian Water Services has been looking at creative ways to engaging the public and businesses working in the food industry.

Through its Keep it Clear campaign, it carried out in-depth research as to why people acted the way they did, giving the company a wealth of information about how to tailor awareness campaigns to different audiences. The campaign also worked with community leaders to spread the word, and free sink strainers to stop food waste going the drain were also handed out.

The result was a real success. Following a seven-week trial in Peterborough blockages fell by more than 80%. The model is now being rolled out to other “hotspot” towns and cities in the region.

With Thanks Nicolette Fox who is part of the wordworks network