2014 update: Please note that this page, along with many on the site was originally written in 2009 and some of the effects of the landfill have changed in that time. RATS have decided to leave it as it is though as an archived record of what the people of Houghton-le-Spring have suffered over the years.
Having a huge mountain of waste in the middle of a town attracts vermin which add to the misery of the people who live close to the quarry.
Fly larvae is in lots of the rubbish that’s dumped into the quarry. The flies hatch and the quarry is an excellent environment for them to breed as the decaying rubbish produces heat for them and there’s an almost endless amount of food.
Sometimes though, the flies leave the quarry, but they soon look for somewhere warm – this leads them straight into peoples’ houses with Grasswell and Newbottle being prime targets.
I know from personal experience how frustrating this can be. A couple of summers ago, every time I came home from work, I was greeted by at least six or seven flies buzzing around my living room. I’d spray them with fly killer and throw them away, but there would be another six or seven the next day, and the day after that and the day after that. Here are some comments from local residents about the flies:
“…I live in Grasswell. Recently we've had a BBQ & a birthday party ruined by flies. They were literally landing on the food while it was cooking. Party food & a cake were ruined & wasted after they were swarmed by flies. Then there's the horrible smell to put up with too. It's disgusting...”
“...Yet another meal ending in tears the flies are everywhere, my child won’t eat because of them...”
Here are some pictures of a fly trap that has been set up in Newbottle. This is a specialist trap that is used in the farming industry and has been in place for about three weeks and it takes about a week before it starts working correctly. The flies can get into the trap, but they can't escape. All that black stuff at the bottom of the trap is dead flies in the liquid!
Houghton has been plagued with rats ever since the quarry opened. Several residents have reported seeing rats in their gardens in broad daylight. Remember that for every one rat you see, there are probably about 20 others! Sunderland City Council diligently send the pest controller round to put down poisoned pellets whenever a sighting is reported.
To the council’s credit, they did respond to pressure from residents when we told them that they weren’t doing enough as the sightings had persisted for several weeks. After a co-ordinated baiting effort, rat sightings reduced. They have returned though and have been seen in peoples’ gardens again.
Birds might not sound like much of a pest, however, they can be just as dangerous as flies and rats.
Seagulls are attracted to the rubbish that is tipped into the quarry. They can take their pick of anything that they can find. This might not sound very dangerous, but as Biffa doesn’t cover up the waste they tip into the quarry, the gulls can pick up pretty much anything. What’s more worrying is that if they can pick it up, they can also drop it. Imagine if a seagull picked up something poisonous or dangerous and then dropped it into someone’s garden, or worse, a school playground? Remember, there are several schools within 1km of the site.
Having thousands of birds flying around also creates lots of mess. RATS secretary, Sheila Ellis once said: “…Everything that goes into their beaks, comes out of their bottoms…” and all over your roof, car, garden furniture and even you if you’re unlucky enough!
Thousands of gulls rise from the tip