Sunderland health chiefs investigate mass fly infestation

Label view of HW Martins Waste Company at Monument Park, Pattinson Industrial Estate, Washington.
Label view of HW Martins Waste Company at Monument Park, Pattinson Industrial Estate, Washington.
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A SWARM of flies is making life hell for residents on a Wearside estate.

The mass infestation has sparked an investigation by the Environmental Health Agency and Sunderland City Council.

Now a Washington waste company, identified as a source of the problem, has been handed an enforcement notice in a bid to bring the situation under control.

Fed-up residents living on Teal Farm estate say the flies have been landing in their homes, on their food, in their beds and even on their babies.

Families, who say the warm weather over the summer has made the problem worse, have collected piles of the insects after swatting them in bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchens.

Fred Kirkland, chairman of Teal Farm Residents’ Association, said: “People can’t sleep with their windows open and are worried because of the types of diseases these things can spread.

“The problem has been going on for a few weeks and finally the council agreed to investigate to find the source.”

The Echo understands an enforcement order has now been served on waste recycling company HW Martins based in nearby Pattinson Industrial Estate in Washington.

The order prevents the company from taking in any more waste until the problem has been brought under control.

Mr Kirkland added: “This has caused a lot of concern.

“I’ve even spoken to a carer who reported flies on a disabled gentleman who was unable to swat them away.”

The residents’ association’s Facebook page has posted pictures of hordes of flies collected by neighbours over recent weeks.

One neighbour says he is feeding the dead flies to fish in his garden pond, while another claims the family cat has now given up chasing them because there are so many.

Some residents have taken to advertising the best “swatters” that neighbours can buy to keep their homes fly-free.

Nearby businesses have also reported an increase in the number of flies.

Fiona Miller, who lives at the top end of Teal Farm estate with husband Graeme and is a councillor for the area, returned from her holidays on Monday to find an influx of flies in her home.Councillor Miller said: “It was horrendous. I’ve never known it as bad.

“By the Tuesday I’d had a series of calls from other residents saying how awful the problem was.”

Coun Miller has now been going door-to-door with leaflets letting residents know who to contact to report the problem.

An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “An enforcement notice has been served on the company to address the issue.

“They have been instructed not to take any more waste for recycling until the current problem has been eradicated.”

Councillor James Blackburn, from Sunderland City Council, added: “Environmental health officers have received several complaints about a fly infestation in the Teal Farm area.

“Officers have been working closely with residents and the Environment Agency and traced the infestation to a waste transfer station in Monument Park.

“The company – HW Martin Ltd – has been co-operating with both the council and the agency on remediation measures.

On Thursday, August 29, as part of the remediation process, the council served a statutory notice stating that the fly infestation be abated to prevent any recurrence.

“The company has been given a reasonable timescale to complete these works.

“While the infestation is tackled on site, we would remind householders to adopt high levels of kitchen hygiene wiping food preparation areas prior to use and covering open food.”

HW Martins’ head office said they would not comment on the situation or the enforcement notice.