The Scottish Government has “no plans” to provide funding to local authorities to combat gull problems, biodiversity minister Lorna Slater has said.
In a letter to Moray MP Douglas Ross, the Green MSP said councils had a responsibility to respond to complaints on council-owned property, while the relevant owner should deal with troublesome birds on private property.
The letter comes two weeks after Moray Council unanimously voted to ask the UK and Scottish Governments for financial help to target the “infestation” of gulls in coastal communities such as Elgin.
The local authority’s Conservative group previously said there had been a “significant rise” in complaints about the birds this summer compared to recent years.
Residents raised concerns about the birds behaving in a territorial manner and leaving behind a mess.
‘These gulls are a menace’
Mr Ross, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, had written the letter to ask about the possibility of government support back in July – two months before Moray Council’s vote – but only received the response yesterday.
He said: “Disappointingly, the Scottish Government did not respond until now and advised that they have no plans to take further action or provide further support, citing the fact that the matter is one for local authorities to address or where the nests are on private property, the property owner.
“I think the majority of people here in Moray agree these gulls are a menace and cause annoyance, mess and are also dangerous.
“This is a continuing problem, which needs to be tackled head on, at a national level and in partnership with others.
“Just washing your hands of the problem and pushing the responsibility onto others, as the Scottish Government seem to be doing, is not the answer.”
‘A range of options is available’
In both the letter sent to the Scottish Government and another sent to Moray Council, Mr Ross referenced a scheme introduced by East Devon District Council which meant fixed penalties could be issued to people who fed the local gulls.
However, the north-east local authority told him there were no plans to introduce such a byelaw in Moray, and Ms Slater said the Scottish Government was not considering fining people “up to £80 for feeding gulls”.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We recognise gulls can be a nuisance in urban environments and can threaten people and damage property.
“A range of options is available for dealing with gulls including the use of visual, auditory or physical deterrents.
“Where gulls are causing a public health or safety issue other measures, such as the removal of nests and eggs, can be undertaken providing a licence has been obtained from NatureScot.”