Sunday 20 January 2019

Gull control measures in Balbriggan now in doubt

John Manning

The thorny issue of a gull invasion in Balbriggan which has been a cause of huge concern for local in recent years has been raised by three local TDs with the Minister for Culture Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

Last year, Balbriggan won a derogation from laws protecting wild birds to take certain population control measures for gulls in the town but those measures stopped short of a cull and involved removing eggs and nests.

That derogation ran out in May and Minister Josepha Madigan has hinted that there are challenges in reintroducing the measures for another year.

Deputy Brendan Ryan TD asked about the Government's wild birds derogation review process and what impact it might have on what he called 'urban gull issues and the serious negative impacts on the communities and the public health and safety concerns caused by such issues'.

Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister if representations have been received from all public representatives of the local community in north County Dublin since summer 2016 with regard to the interim report of the review of the wild birds derogation process.

Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister to 'implement health and safety management and control measures to control the urban seagull population in north County Dublin'.

Josepha Madigan, Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht said her department was currently undertaking the review and would 'take account of all relevant factors, including perceived threats, distribution and population data available in respect of all the bird species in the derogations'. n

The Minister said an interim report was received from consultants in April and indicated 'that the inclusion of gulls in the derogation is challenging in terms of compliance with the Birds Directive on the basis of their view that an analysis of other possible solutions needs to be set out and reviewed, the status of the herring gull is unfavourable and the effects of mitigation actions taken on the gull species concerned are not measurable'.

While the inclusion of gulls in the derogation was limited to the Balbriggan area only for a limited trial period and does not involve the actual culling of gulls, I will take full account of the consultants' views in the context of future derogations and following consideration of the consultants final report, a draft of which has been sent to my Department.'

The Minister added: 'My Department has received representations from the local community group referred to in relation to the interim report. This report has already been published on the website of the National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Department.

'Following consideration of the consultants' final report, my Department will engage with relevant stakeholders.

'The ultimate statutory authority on the derogations resides with me.'

Fingal Independent