Despite concerns that Douglas Council’s controversial move to fortnightly bin collections would lead to an increase in longtails, the opposite seems to be true.

Environment, Food and Agriculture Minister Clare Barber revealed figures on longtail (rat) reports following a question from Douglas North MHK David Ashford.

Mr Ashford, who has been leading the public charge against the council’s policy in recent weeks, asked Mrs Barber what contact government environmental health officers had had with Douglas Council in relation to the bin collections and what advice had been provided.

The Douglas East MHK said that, much like residents of the capital, the council was not required to consult with the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture’s environmental health team and, as such, didn’t.

However, she said that the team had recently supplied figures for requests from the capital to treat longtails in the areas.

She revealed that in 2021, before the policy was introduced, there were 129 reports of the creatures in domestic areas and 29 in houses.

In 2022, the number of reports of longtails in houses was the same, 29, while there have been 63 reports of rodents in domestic areas.

These figures are as of December 14.

Mrs Barber added: ‘The pest control technician for the district has confirmed that they are busy, but no busier than expected for this time of year and they haven’t noticed any particular increase in work since the recent switch to fortnightly bin collections.

‘Every year, longtails move towards domestic premises seeking warmth, shelter and food as temperatures drop, so it is possible people have seen them moving, particularly when it is dark.

Douglas Council cut domestic bin collections to fortnightly in the summer, to try to improve recycling rates across the capital.

While the policy has seen significant criticism, not least over the council’s lack of consultation with residents, the claim that it has led, or would lead, to an increase in the number of longtails across the capital hasn’t been proven.