A FREE gull-clearing service is to be trialled in the south of the city after pleas from residents who say their lives have been made a misery by the birds.
The city council is to offer the service clearing nests and eggs from rooftops in several streets in Merchiston for one year, to see if it is effective.
The decision was welcomed by local campaigners, who say the gulls which nest on their rooftops are a noise nuisance and a health hazard.
They collected hundreds of signatures on a petition campaigning for the service, and made a deputation to yesterday’s transport, infrastructure and environment committee, which made the decision.
A report by officers cautioned that clearing gulls from one area could just displace them to neighbouring streets, but councillors heeded calls for a trial to establish the effect.
Chairwoman of Merchiston Community Council, Mairianna Clyde, said: “We are delighted with the decision today and hope that it will bring lasting benefit to people in the area after many years of suffering.
“A free de-nesting service was introduced in Dumfries last year which was very successful, and other local authorities are adopting such measures. Edinburgh is to be congratulated for this affirmative step in tackling the problem.
“De-nesting is a safe and humane form of gull control and we hope residents will take up the offer. The council intends to advertise it in the pilot area.
“Anyone who is interested in being part of this project and would like further information could meanwhile contact the chair at Merchiston Community Council.”
Dr Clyde’s fellow campaigner, Kay Smith, added: “I’m delighted with the way that the councillors listened to our arguments and by the fact that they are prepared to start the ball rolling, which will allow the council to gain experience in the running of such a service. In the fullness of time the service could be spread to other parts of the city.”
She urged people to come forward soon so that gulls could be removed as early in their breeding season as possible.
Officers estimated that the trial would cost around £25,000, but Dr Clyde said during her deputation to the committee that she was confident the cost could be lowered.
Councillor Gordon Mackenzie, convener of the committee, said: “We are looking to try to reduce the nuisance that gulls create in that area. We are also aware that there is a possibility that the problem might spread and want to see if that does happen.
“I am pleased we are doing something to help the residents in Merchiston but we need to see how the pilot operates before we consider how to continue, or indeed extend, it.
“There is a possibility of displacing the problem to surrounding areas. Finding funding for a one-year pilot won’t be easy but is doable. Extending it may be very difficult.”
Dr Clyde can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org