Bath Voice News: Council advice on tackling gulls

From The Council:

Residents and businesses in Bath which are being impacted by gulls are being updated on the advice and support available to tackle the issue.

Bath & North East Somerset Council receives complaints each year from people whose health, wellbeing, and enjoyment of outdoor spaces are being impacted by the birds’ behaviour.

Anyone who feels their health is being impacted should report them via this webform.

However, action can only be taken by local authorities in very specific situations where public health or public safety is at risk, as gull species including herring and lesser black backed gulls are protected by law. It is illegal to injure the birds, eggs and their nests without consent from Natural England.

The council will soon be applying to Natural England for a licence to allow removal of nests and eggs during the breeding season in cases where a member of the public’s safety is at risk.

The licence does not permit councils to take action in cases where people’s health or safety is not being threatened, for example where gulls are swooping on pets or people, causing noise nuisance or causing sleep disturbance unless it has required medical treatment. 

The council is also encouraging businesses and residents to seek professional advice on gull proofing measures if they are undertaking any roof work or renovations to properties.

Permission from Natural England is not required to prevent gulls from nesting on roofs in the first instance. Anyone who is having roof work carried out before the nesting season should consider asking their contractor to deter gulls from nesting by proofing potential nesting spots, such as behind chimney stacks and parapets. Once nests are in use, they cannot be interfered with until the chicks have fledged. More information on how to ‘proof your roof’ can be found on the council website.

It is also recommended to ensure there are adequate waste storage facilities and to remove any accumulated outdoor waste to deter the gulls.

Councillor Tim Ball, cabinet member Neighbourhood Services, 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.

“We will shortly be applying to Natural England for a licence to take action in cases where gulls are putting people’s safety or health at risk. Anyone who feels they are experiencing a serious situation of this nature is encouraged to report it to us.”