Farmer's plea for acceptance

FARMER Robert Bloom has urged neighbours to accept the countryside as it is, after they complained about his muck heaps.Mr Bloom, whose family has farmed at Stowupland, near Stowmarket, since 1920, spoke out after Mid Suffolk District Council received 23 complaints from residents about flies and smells.

FARMER Robert Bloom has urged neighbours to accept the countryside as it is, after they complained about his muck heaps.

Mr Bloom, whose family has farmed at Stowupland, near Stowmarket, since 1920, spoke out after Mid Suffolk District Council received 23 complaints from residents about flies and smells.

Some residents said up to 50 flies a day had been getting into their homes.

But Mr Bloom, 38, says he has complied with good practice guidelines on preparing for muck spreading, and believes flies are part and parcel of living in the countryside.

He said: "I have done all I can this year. You have got to have flies for the birds to feed on. The muck is 150 or 200 yards from the houses where people are complaining, it is not on their doorstep.

"Flies are obviously attracted to muck, but the people who are complaining are saying I am causing the flies and I am not. There are plenty of other causes of flies other than muck heaps.

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"Environmental health officers asked me to spray the muck hills every four to five days to kill the fly larvae and I have done that. If I have killed the larvae then I'm not responsible for any flies.

"As farmers we are asked more and more to leave hedges uncut. Last year I did just that to encourage insects and birds.

"We also have to leave a six metre buffer zone around the fields for insect life. I am doing that. The problem is people want more butterflies, but not flies. You have to tolerate more insects for the environment's sake.

"Farmers are encouraged to be more environmentally friendly, but people also have to accept it. We need flies. Nature is supplying its young, the birds who feed on them. Please, can people try and tolerate nature as it is?''

Bridget and Derek Foster, who have lived in the village for more than 50 years, sympathise with Mr Bloom and cannot understand why other villagers are making a fuss.

Mrs Foster said: "We are not saying flies are pleasant, but that's country life."

Tanya Bridges, barmaid at The Crown in Stowupland and a villager, said: "The flies seem to be everywhere at the moment, but they don't worry me, there are more important things to worry about.''

But villager Gladis Stafford, who has live locally for more than 30 years, is among those finding the fly problem a real nuisance.

She said: "This is the worst summer we have ever had. The flies are a pain. We have had to keep doors closed, they drive the dog mad. Everybody along our road (Devon Road), is complaining how bad it is.''

A spokesman for the council's environmental health department said the complaints involved a field in Stowmarket Road belonging to Walnut Tree Farm and a pile of muck which had been waiting to be sprayed or ploughed in.

He said: "The flies were breeding and Mr Bloom has agreed to spray the heap every three days at the moment, which will be keeping the flies at bay.''

The council said the muck heap was quite close to people's homes and might have been better placed elsewhere.

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