Seagulls in Bath causing so much chaos 'court action is needed'

-Credit: (Image: Tim Newark)
-Credit: (Image: Tim Newark)

Bath and North East Somerset Council should take Natural England — which protects seagulls — to court and sue them for the damage the birds cause in Bath, a local man has said.

Gulls are a major issue in the city, keeping people up at night with their noise and even swooping at people in the street — but they are protected by law. It is illegal to injure the birds, or to destroy their eggs and their nests without consent from Natural England.

The council is applying to Natural England for a licence to remove the nests and eggs in the breeding season when someone’s safety is at risk. But Bath man Tim Newark thinks the council needs to go further.

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He said: “B&NES should deploy lawfare against Natural England by suing them for the damage caused to council property, the cost of cleaning and gull proofing their buildings, plus the damage inflicted on residents with poo splattered homes, gardens, and parked cars — plus the constant cost of cleaning up after them.

“Only then might Natural England get realistic about the cost of their ludicrously strict laws based on faulty science and allow residents and councils to control the booming gull populations in their midst.”

Mr Newark, who is a historian and regular Daily Express comment writer, said: “Bath is a UNESCO World Heritage site best known for being the location for filming Bridgerton but you wouldn’t think that from the Georgian streets strewn with rubbish thanks to greedy, uncontrolled urban gulls.

“It’s a myth that gulls feed off our rubbish in city centres — their main meal of the day is found on farmers’ fields outside the city. But, always on the look for a snack nearer their nests, greedy gulls love tearing apart so-called gull proof bags to get at the food waste inside. Sometimes they’ll even feed on other birds—happy to tear pigeons apart.

“Since conservationists have used lawfare to tighten the laws protecting wild birds, the perhaps unintended consequences means that councils are no longer able to control the booming populations of urban gulls.

“Natural England claims that gulls are endangered but in their most recent survey, they admitted that 80 per cent of gulls now live in city centres and with ever growing breeding colonies on city roofs. They now number in the hundreds of thousands.”

A gull eating a pigeon -Credit:Tim Newark
A gull eating a pigeon -Credit:Tim Newark

He added: “Natural England has raised the bar absurdly high for councils seeking to control their escalating numbers and councils cannot even remove nests before eggs have been laid, the most obvious measure to protect residents from their noise and mess.

“Gull proofing is moving at a snail’s pace even though this should be mandatory on any new development, especially in the Milsom Quarter. Last year, I offered to contribute £1,000 to the gull proofing of B&NES commercial property at the rear of our garden, but they’ve not taken my money or any action to discourage gulls from keeping us awake through summer nights.

“Natural England want us to get used to living alongside urban gulls, welcoming our new winged neighbours, but they’re not good neighbours—they are neighbours from hell, showering us with faeces, degrading the fabric of our historic buildings, scattering rubbish across our streets, keeping us awake at night, and frightening off smaller birds — if not eating them.”

In a statement last month, the council’s cabinet member for neighbourhood services, Cllr Tim Ball (Twerton, Liberal Democrat) said: “We know that urban gulls can become a nuisance and even cause distress for people in some instances, however we are limited in how much we can do to solve this because it is illegal to interfere with the birds or their nests.

“We urge residents and businesses who are experiencing problems with gulls to ensure they aren’t making their roofs and gardens an attractive target by removing outdoor waste wherever possible. It’s also advisable if you’re planning property renovations to get professional advice on building gull-deterring measures, such as spikes, into the works.”

If gulls are impacting your health, you can report it to the council here.

You can find more information about how to “proof your roof” here.