Fly-tipping and the attendant problem of rats scurrying close to homes and green spaces used by children have raised tempers in yet another local community in Derry.
People living in Knockena at the junction of the Buncrana Road and the Skeoge by-pass have complained illegal dumpers are treating parts of their area like a landfill tip.
This is attracting vermin which, one local councillor has complained, is creating a health hazard for local residents and children.
Sinn Féin Councillor for the Ballyarnett District Electoral Area (DEA), Caoimhe McKnight, blasted those responsible, asking them to have some consideration for the people living in the area.
“I have been contacted by a number of residents of the Knockena Estate alarmed at the consistent occurrence of irresponsible people dumping their rubbish in what little green space in the area on which children can play,” she said.
Colr. McKnight said the build up of rubbish was providing a food source for rats and that if it did not stop their numbers would likely increase.
“I have already reported the issue to Council several times over the last number of weeks but recent reports have indicated that this anti-community dumping is attracting rats,” she said.
“This has now become not only an environmental issue but one that is creating a health hazard. This is particularly very serious and worrying in light of the number of young children living and playing in the area,” Colr. McKnight declared.
It’s no idle warning due to the potentially serious leptospirosis condition that is notoriously carried by rats and mice.
Though rare, Weil’s disease, as it is also known, is a dangerous illness that can be contracted by humans when they come into contact with rat urine.
“I have no doubt that those irresponsible individuals carrying out this health threatening dumping would not appreciate others doing likewise outside their homes and threatening the health and safety of their children.
“There are no excuses for this type of behaviour as it is well publicised that Council provide a bulky lift service where it will collect larger household items on request.
“If you require a bulky lift or wish to report fly-tipping feel free to contact me on 02871359747 or 07794702477,” she said.
Colr. McKnight’s colleagues on Derry City & Strabane District Council’s Environment & Regeneration Committee have regularly addressed the problem of fly-tipping during the course of this mandate and have attempted to discourage the practice with both education and surveillance initiatives.