Robot bid to tackle pigeons at Holyrood ‘ignored’

John Donald says his falcons could have saved Holyrood at least �50k. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

John Donald says his falcons could have saved Holyrood at least �50k. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

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HOLYROOD chiefs could have saved at least £50,000 on combatting the Scottish Parliament’s pigeon problem if they had installed mock falcons on the building at the outset, it was claimed today.

But an East Lothian company which makes the robot birds and sells them around the globe says its approaches were ignored at the time.

The parliament has spent an estimated £70,000 over the past five years on flying birds of prey to scare off the pigeons – and that’s on top of the cost of earlier measures, including employing consultants and installing netting and spikes.

John Donald, of Macmerry-based Robop, said his firm could have put in three or four of their electronic birds for around £20,000 and the pigeon problem might never have arisen. He said: “They’ve got them in New York, Los Angeles and Sydney and we’ve been designed into the new V&A in Dundee.”

Robot falcons were also installed in Waverley Station, where pigeons and seagulls have now all but vanished.

The Evening News revealed last week that the contractors flying the hawks at the parliament have also been using laser pens in a bid to drive the pigeons away and told Holyrood bosses they should consider “lethal controls” if they really wanted rid of the birds, which have been a persistent problem since before the building was officially opened ten years ago.

Mr Donald said Bob McIntyre, founder of the company, knew the old brewery buildings which were bulldozed to make way for the parliament had been infested with pigeons.

“He wrote to the project manager at the parliament when it was being designed, saying you really ought to consider this – we have an option we could design into the building which we believe would prevent the pigeons re-establishing themselves in the new building.

“They completely ignored his letter.”

Mr Donald said there had later been discussions with builders Bovis and some MSPs, but nothing happened.

He said: “The pigeons are now so well established in these nooks and crannies we couldn’t really guarantee our product would work now – but it would have worked if it had been installed at the start.”

East Lothian Labour MSP Iain Gray said the parliament had missed an opportunity.

“It is a mystery to me why the system could not have been used at the parliament when it opened. As it is we have to bring in real falcons to try and chase the pigeons off, which must be more expensive in the long run,” he said.