There is still no direct link between alternate weekly collections and an increase in rat population, pest controllers say.
Speaking to MRW National Pest Technician Association chairman Barrie Sheard said: We havent changed our mind. There is no direct link between alternate weekly collections and this problem. But if AWCs are not managed by supervisors properly or the public leave their bin lids open then you have got trouble.
The number of call outs to rat infestations have increased by 15% from the previous year, with councils reporting 378,000 in 2007/08, according to the NPTAs annual National Rodent Survey.
Reports in The Daily Telegraph and The Daily Mail (10 February) have suggested that this rat explosion is linked directly to AWCs. But Sheard said that these reports have gone down the wrong road (see MRW story).
He said that one of the main reasons for the rat infestation was the previous two mild winters which allowed the rats to breed. He added: We are very concerned the way councils continue to increase their call-out charges and the Government do not seem to appreciate the struggle we have with this increase in rodents. We have different departments doing different bits and pieces. Rodents come under the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs but there ought to be a Government department solely responsible for refuse and rodents rather than a number of different areas.
The survey also said that rubbish in compost bins inadequately sealed from rodents provides just the combination of food and warmth in a relatively undisturbed location that rats prefer.
Sheard said that compost bins need to be put on concrete slabs rather than the earth to stop rats creating burrows underneath them and entering them. He added that councils should give out leaflets giving householders advice to prevent rats from breeding.
However, Sheard said that one or two local authorities have told him that AWCs were causing a bit of trouble with people who still use black bags in apartment blocks rather than wheelie bins.
The NPTA also warned that mice infestation was set to get worse in the recession as more properties become empty.
A Local Government Association spokesman said: Ive seen absolutely no evidence showing AWCs lead to increased problems with rodents. If rubbish is properly bagged and binned, theres no reason why AWCs should lead to an increase in rats and mice.