Seagulls "biggest threat to Bristol's heritage"
THEY rip open our bin bags, scavenge for food outside takeaways, wake people up with piercing cries early in the morning, and now they are being labelled as a threat to Bristol's historic buildings.
Gull droppings are being cited as a major threat to the preservation of many Georgian properties in the city centre.
The acidic droppings eat away at the soft Bath stone which was favoured by Georgian architects. As if that wasn't enough, the birds become aggressive when they are nesting, making it difficult for workmen to carry out maintenance and repair works. According to the latest figures there are an estimated 3,000 nesting pairs of gulls in Bristol, with the population growing at the rate of around 10 per cent every year.
Problems with gulls have been on the increase in cities across the country but Bristol is seen as a particular hotspot.
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The large gull population in the city has been put down to its historic docks and the large number of nearby takeaways, street cafes and restaurants.
Now one of the city's biggest property firms says gulls are the biggest threat to safeguarding the future of Bristol's historic buildings.
BNS Management Service looks after more than 140 blocks of flats and buildings in the city centre and suburbs. Bosses at the firm say that the birds are one of the biggest causes of problems when it comes to maintaining its properties.
Andrew Simmonds, the boss of BNS Management Services, which has its headquarters in Downend, said: "Seagulls are more of a pest than pigeons in the city centre and are causing more damage to buildings than air pollution. We are constantly battling with the winged menaces that scavenge for food among rubbish left by late night revellers and build nests on the city's rooftops.
"On many of our buildings we are having to take special measures to try to stop them nesting. They seem to think that the rooftops of Bristol are their domain. They can be very aggressive and their acidic droppings damage stonework and nesting material causes problems with drainage and downpipes.
"In Georgian buildings, which are often Grade I or II listed, there are limits on what you can add to the buildings to deter the birds. They also have decorative cornices and overhangs that the birds find attractive.
"Gulls naturally live on cliffs so they see the steep side and high nesting places on apartment blocks as the perfect city centre substitute."
The city council has launched a scheme which involves placing fake plastic eggs in nests in a bid to cut the population. It costs £30,000 a year and is expected to start having an impact within the next two years.
But BNS Management Services believes the key to the problem is dealing with the amount of rubbish left on the streets of the city centre.
Mr Simmonds said: "Controlling rubbish so that the birds have less to feed on is seen as the best solution to the menace and landlords need to have easy-to-use rubbish disposal methods for tenants to ensure mess is kept to a minimum."
Nearby Bath is planning to launch a trial scheme which will see rubbish placed in gull-proof bags.