Council’s shocking decision to install electric track on Art Gallery roof to deter gulls

© DC ThomsonAberdeen Art Gallery and Museum
Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museum

Gulls just want to have fun in Aberdeen city centre.

But any of the birds which land on the roof of Aberdeen’s refurbished art gallery will soon be in for a nasty shock – because council chiefs are preparing to install electrified traps.

The authority has announced that the massive £34.6million renovation of the A-listed Victorian building, first started in 2015, will be completed and the gallery reopened to the public on November 2.

But one of the more ambitious aspects, a new copper-clad roof with a glass ceiling, now needs to be protected even as people admire the masterpieces below.

Correspondence seen by the Press and Journal indicates that council officers have bought the Avi-Shock system, following detailed consultation with the council’s pest control and planning teams.

Comprised of a metal ‘track’, birds landing on the equipment will be shocked and gradually learn not to land or nest on the roof.

The firm’s website reads: “The same way electric fences manage cows, pigs, and other livestock, the bird shock track does for pest birds.

“If a bird lands on the track, it is shocked with a harmless amount of electricity that is just enough to scare and deter the bird from landing there.

“They learn instinctively not to return to the treated area.”

Last night, a bird charity called on the authority to ensure the method was legal.

A spokeswoman for RSPB Scotland said: “Aberdeen City Council needs to be certain that what they are proposing for the Art Gallery roof is legal under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

“I would also hope that they are aware of the declining conservation status of some of our seemingly common urban gull species.”

However, opposition SNP George Street and Harbour councillor Dell Hendrickson said: “You would have thought that such a potential problem would have been accounted for in the design process years ago.

“The reality is that gulls flying over the building aren’t going to be worried about where their droppings land – irrespective of whether the roof is electrified or not.

“The council should always be looking to minimise the impact seagulls have on historic buildings in our city, but I’m not sure this will be an effective solution.”

Conservative George Street and Harbour councillor Ryan Houghton said: “It is important that we keep this beautiful building in pristine order, especially after the significant investment our administration has made to it.”