A COUNCILLOR who was astounded when officers insisted on carrying out risk assessments for trapping moles said: “It’s health and safety gone mad.”

Durham County Council has invested in more mole traps after complaints about an infestation in Weardale, County Durham.

But before the traps could be deployed, officers insisted on organising a health and safety assessment.

The county councillor for Weardale, John Shuttleworth, asked the council for the traps to solve problem of moles burrowing in the cemeteries in Rookhope and Cowshill and ruining flower beds.

Councillor Shuttleworth said: “This is health and safety gone totally mad. How can you carry out a risk assessment before catching moles?

“They’re not going to bite you if you know what you are doing.

“There is a local man I told the council about, who has been catching moles for 30 years but, apparently, he doesn’t have the necessary paper qualifications.

“All you need to do is to buy a few traps, which only costs a couple of quid.

“Durham County Council is the biggest local authority in the region with a massive budget and it cannot even sort out a few little moles.

“While the council is carrying out risk assessments, the moles are being given carte blanche to carry on burrowing in Weardale.”

Retired council worker Stan Bell, 72, who lives in St John’s Chapel, said: “Gone are the days when farmers used to advertise how many moles they had caught by stringing them up on a wall.

“Now, the pests can burrow away without any fear.”

James Bennett, the county council’s Streetscene manager, said: “We have to ensure we have adhered to legislation and have a rigid system in place for the control of moles.

“As a minimum qualification, all our pest control officers are trained, or receiving ongoing training, to give them the knowledge of all legislation, guidelines, animal welfare and health and safety issues they need to adhere to.

“However, we believe the gentleman referred to by Coun Shuttleworth uses methods which are not recommended under the legislation.

He was not able to confirm that he had the required knowledge of the pest control legislation.

“If he could do this then we could review the situation.”