Avonmouth residents are blaming a local waste plant after their homes were infested with flies, again… but the council says there’s only “low numbers”.
Avonmouth residents say they are watching with horror as another fly infestation begins to manifest for the second time in weeks – and are furious that the council, the port and local businesses have said that there’s no problem.
“They’re just constantly batting you on the face, and getting in your ears,” said resident Ian Robinson, observing the increase of newly hatched flies in the last week. “It is disgusting, absolutely horrible.”
Last month, the swarms reached as far as Filton, Severn Beach and Lawrence Weston. Shirehampton resident Karen Van Hoey Smith described having to cover food preparation and kitchen bins with clingfilm to prevent swarms of flies in her home, and having to constantly swat away the pests while feeding her children.
Photos and videos shared on social media showed people unable to keep flies off their food preparations and fly catchers covered in the bugs.
It is widely assumed that the source of the flies are waste processing operations in Avonmouth docks, and particularly operations processing refuse derived fuel (RDF).
However, responding to the Cable, the council said during monitoring in the last two weeks it had “observed low numbers and no spikes in concentration”.
“Fly numbers do increase naturally in warm weather, regardless of the source they are attracted to and it is very difficult to pinpoint one cause,” It continued.
Locals say it’s only a matter of time before the flies return en masse.
The council further said it was “working closely with the Environment Agency and the local community in response to complaints about fly numbers in the Avonmouth area”, including making visits to the site and “discussing the problems” with local businesses, Darren Jones MP and local councillors.
Robinson said the council’s response is typical of the way that pest and pollution issues are dealt with in the area. Avonmouth docks have been earmarked in regional and local economic strategy as a site where waste processing industries are encouraged.
“They’ve been caught with their pants down, and now they’re trying to bury it, as if it never happened. Again,” he said.
The latest episode has left residents of the area furious at the lack of action. “I think people round here are still not being properly represented,” said Van Hoey Smith. “They feel there’s no transparency and they’re being lied to, and there’s just a loss of confidence.”
In 2014, waste company Boomeco was found to be responsible for an Avonmouth fly infestation that became so serious the then-MP Charlotte Leslie raised the issue in parliament, citing “procedural failures” and “sluggish responses” from all agencies involved to tackle the problem. David Cameron conceded that the residents had “suffered unacceptably”. The company was fined £14,000 the following year.