Enviroment: Rise of the rat blamed on water privatisation
Rats are breeding at an alarming rate and posing a hitherto unrecognise d level of threat to human health. Kim Sengupta reports that local authorities are now considering legal action against privatised water authorities for allegedly neglecting infestatio
New medical research has also discovered the rats carry more disease- causing parasites than previously realised, and many of these can be transmitted to people by household pets.
Nearly a million homes in England are suffering from rat infestation, and there has been a 40 per cent rise in the number of homes infested in the last two decades. Much of it is said to stem from decaying sewers and drains.
A number of local authorities are now considering mounting a test case against privatised water companies under environmental and pest-control laws. It is claimed that while some of the companies have been making " fat-cat" payments to executives and directors, they have often drastically reduced funding for rat control.
Yorkshire Water, which has around 15,000 miles of sewers, wants to end its contract with the pest-control department of the local councils. Instead it plans to offer the contract to private companies .
Pest-control officers believe this is a recipe for major problems in the future. David Bird, environmental services manager of Sheffield council, said: "We are exploring the possibility of legal action over this. We feel such action can be brought under environmental and pest-control laws".
Yorkshire Water has denied that the move is is a cost-cutting exercise, and said the company would strive to maintain and improve the quality of service. In l995, the company reduced its sewer-baiting budget by one- third, although a small percentage of the money was later restored.
According to last night's Granada Television World in Action programme, the health risk is greater than previously recognised. Potentially fatal illnesses include Weil's disease, Q disease, toxic plasma, and hantavarius, which can cause liver and kidney failure.
Exclusive: World’s most pristine waters are polluted by US Navy human waste
Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Any terrorist seizure of the plane ‘would have required one hell of a piece of planning’
Croatia's second city to close 'worst zoo in the world' after reports of 'nightmare' conditions and 'depressed' animals
Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Hijackers, pirates or suicide – the theories surrounding the mystery
Oscar Pistorius trial: Photographs of Paralympian splattered in blood after Reeva Steenkamp shooting shown in court
Katie Hopkins continues campaign to become Britain's most hated talking head with poorly timed Bob Crow tweet
No EU referendum under Labour: Ed Miliband to reveal that vote on membership is ‘unlikely’ in next Parliament if party wins power
Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
The rise of Ukip: Study warns Labour that Eurosceptic party's electoral base now 'more working class than any of the main parties'
Europeans have ‘got whiter’ due to natural selection in past 5,000 years, scientists say
Fracking is turning the US into a bigger oil producer than Saudi Arabia
- 1 Is your name now 'banned' in Saudi Arabia?
- 2 Exclusive: World’s most pristine waters are polluted by US Navy human waste
- 3 Nemanja Matic interview: My family were in tears when we left Lisbon
- 4 Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Jet ‘hijacking’ began soon after take-off
- 5 'Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 plane found in Bermuda Triangle!' Facebook links are profiting hackers
£50000 - £60000 per annum: Charter Selection: This well respected and exciting...
£40000 - £50000 per annum: Charter Selection: This exciting company and market...
£40000 - £60000 per annum + EXCELLENT SALARY: Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Cli...
£25,000 to £35,000: IT Connections Ltd: Signal Processing Engineer / Acoustics...