Council scrap seagull nest removal plan

RESIDENTS plagued by noisy and aggressive gulls are furious at council plans to scrap a successful pilot project which removed nests from city rooftops.

City council chiefs said they could not afford to continue or expand the scheme which focused on a number of streets in Merchiston.

But community leaders called for a “seagull taskforce” to be set up, which could concentrate efforts on hotspot areas. Merchiston community council chairwoman Dr Marianna Clyde said the gulls created “horrendous noise” and attacked people and pets.

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She said the council’s 12-month pilot had shown “de-nesting” was a cheap and effective solution, which was also completely humane.

A report to next week’s transport and environemt committee says the cost of the pilot project was £9000, much less than the original £25,000 estimate. But it adds that funding has rumn dry and recommends the de-nesting service be offered on a commercial basis at £70.50 per visit, with at least three needed each nesting season.

But Dr Clyde said the proposal was “an insult to people’s intelligence”. She said: “You have to do entire streets. You can’t just have individuals doing one roof. It’s a problem which requires leadership and the administrative resources of the council.

“They are probably worried about having to take on the whole city, but I suggest they have a seagull task force and just go to areas where they have had complaints.”

She said the gulls were also a problem in Marchmont, Leith and Morningside.

“We are doing this on behalf of all the citizens of Edinburgh,” she said.

Dr Clyde also a challenged the council’s claim the service will cost £9000 a year. They didn’t hire any specialist staff or equipment.

“The cost of the pilot was really just two men for five days or so, making a number of visits – and it included £2250 for the preliminary roof survey, which would not need to be done again.”

Meadows/Morningside Conservative councillor Mark McInnes said the pilot had worked well adding it would be “short-sighted” to let it go.

He said: “This is a problem across the city. We are talking about not a lot of cost to deal with an issues that cannot otherwise be dealt with.

“Although the council takes the view it is the householders’ responsibility, that is very difficult to manage in a tenement situation.”

Transport and environment convener Lesley Hinds acknowledged the pilot had been successful. But she said: “It would be £9000 per year just for that one area – the question is how we marry that up with other priorities. We don’t have the resources in the budget to do that.

“But if people wish a service, we’re going to provide it on a commercial basis.”

And she said she believed the problem was not as big as before as less rubbish bags on the street has led to a reductuion in the number of gulls.