Scottish Government "passing the buck" when it comes to problem of gulls

South Scotland list MSP Colin Smyth has accused the Scottish Government of “passing the buck” after he called for a national response to the growing gull problem in town centres.

Friday, 24th September 2021, 9:26 am
Updated Friday, 24th September 2021, 9:36 am
Seagulls are a major problem across the region

Mr Smyth lodged a written parliamentary question in the Scottish Parliament.

It reads: “To ask the Scottish Government what action it plans to take to tackle the issue of nuisance gulls in town centres in situations where growing gull populations are impacting on the quality of life of residents.”

Environment Minister Mairi McAllan responded it was a matter for local councils or property owners.

She said: “Local authorities are expected to respond to statutory nuisance complaints on council owned property, such as where the deposit of bird droppings may have an effect on public health.

"The responsibility for dealing with nuisance gulls on private property is for the relevant owner although local authorities can provide advice and assistance, and have powers under environmental protection legislation to tackle nuisances.”

Complaints about birds have increased in recent months across the region.

Councils have no statutory duty or powers to take action against gulls, although some such as Dumfries and Galloway have used methods such as nest and egg removal and using birds of prey to scare gulls away.

Nest and egg removal had to be put on hold due to the pandemic and new restrictions from Scottish Natural Heritage mean it has not yet been reintroduced.

Mr Smyth believes the Scottish Government needs to play more of a role including stronger littering laws that make it an offence to feed gulls and direct support to fund gull proofing on buildings.

He said: “It is deeply disappointing that the Scottish Government are simply passing the buck when it comes to the growing gull problem in our town centres.

"In 2008, then Environment Minister Mike Russell promised to be ‘tough on seagulls and tough on the causes of seagulls’, but in fact, the Government has strengthened the protection of gulls and now they want nothing to do with tackling the nuisance being caused.

"Simply saying it’s up to councils and property owners is just not good enough.”