Gull crack­down us­ing drone sparks pri­vacy fear

Gloucestershire Echo - - NEWS - By LEIGH BOOBYER

CON­CERNS have been raised over whether an anti-gull drone in Chel­tenham could see into res­i­dents’ bed­room win­dows.

The bor­ough coun­cil is con­sid­er­ing whether to buy a drone to spot gull nests in out-of-reach places, as part of de­ter­rent mea­sures against the birds.

The mo­bile copter would spot a nest for the coun­cil to later oil the eggs and pre­vent them from hatch­ing.

But coun­cil­lor Max Wilkin­son ques­tioned whether the coun­cil could get away with fly­ing drones close to res­i­dents’ homes.

Mr Wilkin­son (LD, Oak­ley), speak­ing at a scru­tiny meet­ing on Mon­day night, said: “There are clearly is­sues of pri­vacy we must con­sider. A drone could be well be close enough to see through our bed­room win­dows. I don’t know whether you know reg­u­la­tions around fly­ing drones near build­ings but this could be a worry for res­i­dents.”

The coun­cil­lor who lead the study to tackle he town’s ur­ban gull prob­lem, Klara Sud­bury, said she did not know the reg­u­la­tions on how close some­one can fly near a res­i­den­tial build­ing.

A coun­cil work­ing group has come up with a se­ries of rec­om­men­da­tions to put to the coun­cil’s cab­i­net to agree next week, in­clud­ing in­creas­ing the ur­ban gull bud­get by £10,000.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port pre­sented to the coun­cil’s overview and scru­tiny com­mit­tee, ur­ban gull colonies have risen from 239 in 2000 to 473 in 2015.

Of the rec­om­men­da­tions, one of them in­cluded a sug­ges­tion to make res­i­dents treat gull nests them­selves or if they don’t the coun­cil would at­tempt to en­ter the home in­stead.

Coun­cil­lor Dilys Bar­rell, who coau­thored the scru­tiny re­port, said the coun­cil faces calls from res­i­dents to clear gull nests but are re­fused ac­cess.

Ms Bar­rell (LD, Park) said: “There is a block of flats in Park ward where gulls are nest­ing, and is frus­trat­ing res­i­dents. The hous­ing as­so­ci­a­tion has com­pletely re­fused ac­cess to clear it.”

Mrs Sud­bury told the com­mit­tee how Worces­ter City Coun­cil have in­tro­duced drones fit­ted with cam­eras to con­trol gull num­bers in the neigh­bour­ing dis­trict early this year.

The Worces­ter­shire au­thor­ity said the ro­tored ro­bots were sent up in the high street to re­place the gulls’ eggs with life-like dum­mies.

Coun­cil­lor Joy Squires, chair­man of Worces­ter City Coun­cil’s En­vi­ron­ment Com­mit­tee, said: “The drones were able to re­veal hard-to-find gull nests hid­den be­tween chim­ney pots or squeezed into nar­row roof gul­lies.”

Fred­die and Beau Lee with their bal­loons

Can­cer care char­ity Mag­gie’s held a Christ­mas fair at The Dou­ble Tree by Hil­ton in Charl­ton Kings. Pic­tured be­low, Lyn Rick­etts and Rachel Nor­ton. Pic­tures: Daniel Day

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