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Rats return after Downham Market residents told to stop cutting grass


By Lynn News Reporter


Residents in Downham have been left feeling helpless after a rat problem has returned following a dispute with the Environment Agency.

A number of those whose properties on Bridge Road back on to a riverbank have experienced the issues after they were told by the authority to pay for a licence to cut the grass between their homes and the river, or stop altogether.

Bridge Road, Downham, in July 2018. Photo: SUBMITTED. (3527720)
Bridge Road, Downham, in July 2018. Photo: SUBMITTED. (3527720)

One such person is Eva Clee who said: “For 15 years we have all been cutting the grass at the back of our properties, because of the amount of rats coming into our gardens.”

Mrs Clee said they did this at least once every two weeks which kept the rodents away.

“Last year the Environment Agency came and said we have got to pay £25 a year for encroaching on their property,” she added.

Bridge Road, Downham, before the steps were removed, in September 2017. Photo: SUBMITTED. (3527718)
Bridge Road, Downham, before the steps were removed, in September 2017. Photo: SUBMITTED. (3527718)

Although the residents would have accepted this fee, Mrs Clee said they were also told they would have to pay liability insurance for a minimum of £5 million, which they did not accept.

“We were told to stop cutting the grass and remove the steps, and if you do not remove them, we will and send you a bill,” she added.

“Now it’s absolutely disgusting, the rats have returned and the Environment Agency have not cut the grass.”

Bridge Road, Downham, after the steps were removed, in September 2017. Photo: SUBMITTED. (3527722)
Bridge Road, Downham, after the steps were removed, in September 2017. Photo: SUBMITTED. (3527722)

Mrs Clee said a couple of the residents did pay the licence, but most did not and are now left with the rodent issues.

A spokeswoman for the Environment Agency said: “The riverbank in the Bridge Road area is land owned by the Environment Agency and it is a major flood bank and tidal defence.

“The grass is cut twice a year to the level necessary for operational purposes. Our contractor has just started out on the latest round of main cuts to the riverbanks in the area.

“The Environment Agency is happy for the residents to trim the level of the grass further, but for this a licence is required. A number of the residents in the Bridge Road area have already agreed to pay for a licence.

“If there appears to be a particular problem with rats burrowing into the bank, our Asset Performance team will assess for evidence.”



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