The ban on glue traps in England “will cripple hospitality and retail sectors”

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Pest controller Martin Harvey fears that Defra’s recent announcement regarding glue trap licensing in England will bring many parts of the hospitality and retail sectors to their knees.

Mr Harvey, managing director of Harvey Environmental Services, is calling for an urgent Government rethink on the new licensing regime, which comes into force on 31st July and is urging fellow pest control companies to have their say.

Martin Harvey, managing director of Harvey Environmental Services

His plea comes days after the British Pest Control Association said public health across England is under threat from pests due to an ‘ill thought out’ licensing scheme being pushed forward by Government.

Under the new legislation, professional pest controllers will be able to apply for glue trap licences in ‘exceptional circumstances’, but supermarkets, restaurants and takeaways are actively excluded from this list.

The professional pest control sector wholeheartedly agrees with a ban for amateur use, as this is the sector that is most likely to have incidents of animal cruelty, but we are campaigning for glue traps to be kept for the professional sector, if necessary, with a licensing scheme.

It seems that the licensing scheme has now been devised, but it is unworkable, prohibitively expensive and excludes large parts of the UK business landscape who have a definite need for such an effective control measure.

It also seems that it will take a considerable amount of time to apply for a licence and then for it to be granted – meanwhile the rodents are running round causing mayhem. I truly believe that if this legislation goes ahead, it will have a very serious effect on the retail and hospitality industry.

While it may seem barbaric to some, there is nothing in the professional pest controllers’ armoury that can bring a rodent issue under control as fast as glue traps can.

Our inability to utilise this tool from July 31, launches a government aimed torpedo into already struggling sectors – I’m not sure if that is the thinking behind this, but as sure as eggs are eggs this will be the result.

Under the new ruling, rodents will remain active in food areas for longer periods of time and the numbers will multiply at rapid rates, posing a heightened risk to public health.

If the retailers, restaurateurs or hoteliers fail to contain an infestation quickly, it will undoubtedly lead to temporary or permanent closure of sites. That, in turn, leaves businesses with severe reputational damage, crippling court costs and puts people out of jobs.

I have 42 years’ experience in dealing with rodent control and know only too well that ‘behavioural resistance’ from rodents in city centres is widespread. These urban rodents have enough food available to them to be able to avoid baits or traps, so it may take weeks or months to achieve proper control.

The use of glue traps is the only way to deal with an infestation quickly and effectively, yet under the new licencing scheme our hands are tied. It really does seem that the health of rats and mice is being put above that of human beings with this proposed legislation.

I understand the industry has been trying to get feedback on this subject from DEFRA for nearly a year to no response. The ruling (and the licensing scheme which is effectively a ban) was announced just six weeks before implementation and, in my opinion, it is fundamentally flawed.

I felt it was time to put my head above the parapet to highlight the significant impact this ruling will have on public health, the hospitality sector, and the wider British economy. If this goes ahead it’s a large nail in the coffin for hospitality.

The new ruling does allow pest controllers to apply for an advance licence for use inside aircrafts, in hospital surgery operating rooms and in critical infrastructure sites at imminent risk of fire or equipment failure.

It also enables then to apply for individual, single-use licences to deal with a particular problem on site in the likes of care homes and hospitals. But in retail and hospitality it is a total ban.

I believe that certain clauses have only been added to superficially appease the pest control sector. Scratch the surface and it becomes very apparent that we would have to jump through never ending hoops to obtain a licence, plus the cost to the customer would be astronomic.

There is even a clause which insists that we must supply a reference from another pest controller that vouches for our competency. The whole thing stinks and needs calling out. I am appealing for fellow pest controllers to make their voices heard about this ruling, by writing directly to Defra.

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With more than 25 years' experience in business-to-business publishing, Simon is editor of LBM titles Pest and OvertheCounter. Big fan of Manchester United.