Action plan drawn up to combat Yorkshire’s seaside menaces

Gulls targeted by new action plan
Gulls targeted by new action plan

A NEW front is to be opened in the long battle with airborne menaces along Yorkshire’s coastline.

Scarborough Council has set out an action plan aimed at reducing the nuisance caused by herring gulls and kittiwakes.

Encouraging birds to move away from the town centre, doing more to stop litter being targeted and designing buildings to remove nesting opportunities are among the measures included.

While aggressive birds have long been a source of annoyance on Yorkshire’s coast, concern at the impact on the area’s crucial tourist trade have prompted growing calls for action.

There is a particular worry that negative comments on holiday review websites about gulls stealing food from visitors could put off tourists from the area.

Despite some calls for more drastic action against the birds there are no plans for a council sponsored cull to take place.

However, the action plan includes offering advice to property owners on “licences that can be applied for via Natural England”.

After a series of high profile incidents across the country in the summer, Natural England highlighted the availability of a licence allowing people to remove herring gull nests and eggs where it can be shown there is a risk to public health and safety.

Educating residents and visitors about the different types and habits of birds and how to reduce their impact is part of a nine-point plan to be considered by Scarborough councillors next week.

To help get a more accurate picture of the scale of the problem, people will be encouraged to report so-called “gull muggings” where birds steal food from their hand.

School pupils in the town are likely to be asked for their help to design a new poster urging the public to do their bit to combat gulls.

The poster and other council messages on the issue will be featured on the side of bin lorries while food shops will be offered advice on how to stop birds accessing their waste.

A trial of bird-proof refuse sacks has produced encouraging results and the council will invest in more to be used in seafront locations.

The council expects to spend £10,000 initially with a further £1,000 a year to replace those that are damaged although businesses may be asked to contribute.

Bins in the most affected areas will be replaced with new models that are hard for birds to stand on.

Existing signs urging people not to feed the birds will be reviewed to see if the message can be put in a way that hits home with visitors.

The planning system could also be used to encourage people to include measures that reduce opportunities for nesting when they propose new buildings.

Discussions will be held with wildife experts including the RSPB and Natural England over encouraging kittiwakes currently nesting in Scarborough’s town to move to the Castle Headland.

Other parts of the country have enjoyed success by using netting to stop kittiwakes nesting on buildings forcing them to seek out more natural surroundings.

Councillors will consider the action plan at a meeting on Monday.