Plagued residents back bid to get rid of ‘flying rat’ nests

Mairianna Clyde, who is leading call for denesting across the city, on the roof of her flat

Mairianna Clyde, who is leading call for denesting across the city, on the roof of her flat

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A PETITION to tackle dive-bombing seagulls in Merchiston has been launched by the community council.

Almost 300 residents in the area have put their names to the petition, which calls on the city council to introduce a free “denesting service”. The service, which the community council hopes would start during the gulls’ breeding season next year, involves removing hundreds of nests from the roofs of homes and businesses in the city.

Residents live in fear of gulls diving at them during the nesting season

Residents live in fear of gulls diving at them during the nesting season

In the first instance, Merchiston Community Council suggests that it should be used as a pilot scheme within the Merchiston area.

Chair of the community council, Mairianna Clyde, said residents had been plagued by the “flying rats” for two to three decades, with the problem getting worse in the last two years.Dr Clyde said: “The gulls are nesting on roofs and they become very aggressive during July, August and September when their young are fledgling, and attack people.

“They swoop round about you and then they dive. If you don’t get out of the way, they will collide with you. Their faeces is just everywhere and they’re very noisy too.”

Dr Clyde said if residents in all the areas of the Capital – Leith and Dalry are also known to be affected – who share the seagull problems were to “de-nest” their roofs continuously over a period of time, the gulls would eventually get the message and move on to industrial areas, where there are roofs but no residents.

“Denesting is not only the most effective solution, but it’s the least controversial,” Dr Clyde added.

The petition, which has gathered 270 signatures in just two weeks, will be noted at a city council meeting on Thursday.

Conservative councillor Gordon Buchan will also call for a report that accurately reviews the actions of other UK local authorities and identifies a best practice solution for use in Edinburgh.

Among the comments listed on the petition by frustrated residents are “very noisy, can’t get any sleep”, “blight to everyone” and “they are driving me mad”.

The city council offered a nest clearing service, which included a charge, until 2006. There is now no local authority service of its kind available to residents in the Capital.

A spokeswoman for the city council said: “The petition by Merchiston Community Council will be noted by council on Thursday.”

Kay Smith, a councillor on Merchiston Community Council who lodged the petition, said: “The aim of the denesting service would be to reduce the number of young gulls, as well as to act as some deterrent to adult gulls who return every year to nest in the area.

“There is a constant fear of attack from gulls – it’s an ever-present danger. The noise is a big problem, as are the droppings on people’s properties, cars, washing and windows, and they’re now adept at bursting plastic rubbish bags.”

laura.cummings@edinburghnews.com