Councillors ready to resort to netting as bird damage grows

Netting could be draped over an historic Scarborough museum to prevent seabirds from nesting amid fears the grade II listed building is being badly damaged by droppings.

Conservation chiefs at Scarborough Council are recommending the measure in a bid to deter hundreds of birds – mainly Kittiwakes – from nesting on ledges at the Rotunda Museum, which dates back to 1828.

A report, which is due to go before planners next Thursday, says the building’s central tower has been subject to “serious seabird infestation”, with the birds creating a general nuisance as well as health and safety concerns when they return each year.

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The council’s conservation officer, Chris Hall, said: “There is a significant problem with nesting kittiwakes due to the presence of features on the building, which make it an ideal one for birds. This problem is visually unsatisfactory and is beginning to cause damage to the building due to the direct effect of the guano on the relatively soft stone.

“Cleaning techniques such as pressure washing on the masonry are also likely to be damaging to the stone and therefore it is preferable to tackle the problem by preventing the nesting of birds. There is also a health and safety issue for both staff and the users of the building.”

Concerns have also been raised that the birds’ nests will clog up drainage pipes and cause dampness and flooding which could damage the building and destroy the museum’s collection.

Mr Hall has suggested action is taken to remove the bird droppings using a gentle cleaning process before the netting is installed.

Recommending the scheme for approval, he said: “It is considered that the proposed bird deterrent system is of an acceptable design and material that would not detract from the historic and architectural importance of this grade II listed building. Moreover the netting will protect it from damage through continued bird nesting infestation and guano build-up and will therefore ensure its long-term preservation.”