Falcon flies in to scare plague of Seagull Street

Gulls descending on a house in Magpie Close
Gulls descending on a house in Magpie Close

DESPERATE residents of a street besieged by scores of squawking seagulls say the latest scheme to rid their area of the winged invasion has had partial success.

People living in Magpie Close, dubbed Seagull Street, said they have had to endure thousands of the birds perching on their rooftops for several years, so they can watch waste deliveries at the nearby Pebsham landfill site.

Biffa, which owns the site, set up a two-week trial scheme in the vicinity of Magpie Close using starting pistols and a falcon to deter the seagulls from settling on residents’ rooftops. It finished on Thursday, September 15.

Lyn Markwick, 66, and one of the main residents who have campaigned for an end to the winged invasion, said: “Everything seems to have panned out okay. Last Monday (September 5), for instance, was very quiet.

“But for the long term we will have to wait and see whether this has permanently improved the situation. I am not holding my breath because we have had so many false dawns. It is approaching the time of year when the seagulls leave anyway, the worst month being August.

“It was worse this August than the same time last year.”

Biffa in the past has tried to tackle the problem by building a wall of earth between the waste and the houses.

But this had no effect, according to disgruntled residents.

Andy Coleman, regional operations manager at Biffa said: “We’d like to reassure residents that we are working hard to solve the issue of seagulls near the landfill site at Pebsham and have been liaising with the Environment Agency to look at additional tactics that can be implemented.

“By law, we have to put measures in place to control birds at the site and so during operational hours we use falcons to keep seagulls away. Unfortunately, during these hours seagulls tend to gather some way from the landfill site on nearby houses causing issues for some residents.

“Following discussions with the Environment Agency and our bird control contractors it was agreed to operate limited bird control in the vicinity of Magpie Close for a two-week period, until yesterday.

“Our proposal was to move our bird control expert to a point between the landfill site and nearby houses allowing the falcon to fly between the site and Magpie Close.”

He said the bird-of-prey was used to unsettle the gulls and force them elsewhere away from the houses.

Mr Coleman added: “We continue to work closely with the community, local councillors and MPs and would like to thank residents for their patience while we work to improve the situation. If anyone has concerns they can ring Biffa on 01424 430788.”

The firm will be reviewing the results of the two-week trial next week.