Victoria Groulef said today that the forestry commission must do more to help local residents, in Pangbourne, who are being kept in the dark over plans to spray insecticide from helicopters onto the woodland near their homes.
The residents turned to Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Reading West, Victoria Groulef, as the Forestry Commission has not responded to their queries about possible side effects or if the spraying could harm the rare butterfly species that live in the woods.
The aerial insecticide spraying will be used to eradicate the oak processionary moth from local woodlands but residents who live nearby and have allotments say there has been no consultation and little advice available about the plans.
Victoria Groulef said: “Local residents have contacted me to say that little information has been made available about the planned spraying of woodland at Herridge’s and Broom copses in order to eradicate the oak processionary moth.
“Residents say that a short article in the local newsletter and a few scattered posters have said that spraying will take place, but have not indicated when it will happen, what the impact will be, or who to contact if you have concerns. Despite leaving messages on the Forestry Commission’s own help line, nobody has called residents back. This is totally unacceptable.
“Residents are being very reasonable. They understand that the oak processionary moth caterpillars, a native of southern and central Europe can cause health problems. But likewise they want reassurances that the spraying will not have an impact on human health or on the local environment.”
Antoinette Earl, a local resident and nearby allotment holder said “I am aware of the toxic nature of the caterpillars, but also aware that previous control methods have reduced the number of caterpillar nests from several dozen in 2011 to only 3 last year. The aerial spraying approach feels like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.
“On that basis I am really concerned about the wider and long term potential impact of the spraying on beneficial and rare insects, especially as the site is designated a Sites of Special Scientific Interest and has a number of rare butterfly species that will potentially be hit by spraying. The Forestry Commission says the spraying is ‘safe’ and maybe this is so – but what concerns me is the lack of consultation about this.”