MORE than 400 people attended an emergency meeting claiming their lives had been made ‘intolerable’ by a plague of flies.

Angry Oswaldtwistle residents said this week’s warmer weather had caused huge swarms of the insects to emerge from decaying rubbish illegally dumped at the former Nipa Laboratories site.

County and borough councillor Peter Britcliffe said last night’s meeting was ‘an important show of feeling’ and that people ‘wanted answers’. The Environment Agency is investigating how the material, some wrapped in black plastic, came to be dumped at the site in Nook Lane.

Problems include:

• Large numbers of flies swarming outside windows and doors

• Entire surfaces such as floors and tables becoming covered with dead flies overnight

• Residents saying they are unable to eat or sleep with flies landing on them.

  • Food businesses having to keep produce under cover.

One shop alone has sold 1,000 fly paper kits and 200 spray bottles in five days instead of the usual one or two items per week.

Annette Cairns, who lives in Stanhill Lane a few streets away from the site, said: “It’s a full blown plague. There are swarms of them just buzzing around trying to get in and they crawl on you when they do.

“Yesterday I burned myself badly with a cup of tea because one crawled onto me.”

New Lane resident Margaret Smith said: “I came down the other morning and the entire carpet was black, covered in dead flies.

“It is absolutely disgusting. We find them on the windowsills and surfaces too. They get in no matter how careful you are”.

People said they were sleeping in closed rooms, covering their heads, to prevent flies crawling on them while asleep.

Another New Lane resident Angela Fordham said: “There’s just clouds of them waiting to come in so you can’t open the window. They’re just swarming around. When they’re in the house they crawl all over you. They aren’t a bit afraid when you swat them away.

“We have tried eating in the house but when they keep landing on your food, you just end up throwing it away.

“Even if you make a brew, you’ll get three flies floating in it before you’re done with it. It’s like that film The Birds - but with flies.”

Some householders and businesses said the flies were proving resistant to spray fly killers and even professional electric grid flykillers.

Butcher John Whittaker at Whittaker’s in Union Road said: “We don’t spray anything obviously and we have two professional electric grids which are usually very effective. However these new small flies seem impervious to it and just dance around it and through it.”

Gobbiner Cafe owner Christine Hannon said: “We’re cooking with all the doors and windows closed tight shut, so it gets very hot and intolerable. We have to be so careful in keeping everything covered up. It needs sorting out very quickly.”

Annie Wheeler at Pound Plus Store said: “People are very unhappy. We’ve been getting a lot of carers in who are buying for the housebound people. One man said he cared for a blind man who couldn’t see how many flies were in his house.”

Coun Britcliffe said urgent action was needed.

He said: “The residents need to know immediately what is being done about this problem because they are battling it on a daily basis.

“We need to know what action is being taken, how the flies problem will be cleared and whether the waste is affecting the watercourses.

“I urge the authorities to answer the residents’ questions. I am being contacted by residents non stop who want advice on what to do.”

One resident who attended last night’s meeting said: “What is happening is just rubbish, we have still not got answers to what is going on.”

The Environment Agency said it had received dozens of complaints on the issue and ownership of the site where the waste had been dumped was unclear.

It said no-one had permission to dump material on the site.

A spokeswoman said: “This is unpleasant for local people and has caused disruption to local businesses, which is not acceptable.

“Pest controllers are working on the site today and everyday until the situation is resolved. We are currently investigating the enforcement options available and are closely monitoring the situation. Those affected can call our incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60.”

Another meeting will be held tonight at Tricky’s pub, Thwaites Road, Oswaldtwistle tonight.