To Protect: Gull Season 2023

Why protect?

As building owners, managers or appointed persons we have a duty of care for our family, colleges and visitors. Protecting public health, air safety and/or trading is paramount. Gulls can be aggressive, especially when protecting young birds and can present a serious health and safety risk.

Remember, nuisance or inconvenience is not licensable. There has to be a clearly defined risk to public health and safety.


How to protect?

Prevention is always the best way forward with any type of pest issue, bird proofing, falconry response or scarers. Devices such as bio acoustic species-specific distress calls, bird alerts, rockets, bangers, kites and lures all come under this category. Most scarers can be used in a DIY fashion for smaller sites with less issue, however it may be worth speaking to a bird control expert to ensure they are the right solution for your situation.

In all instances before applying for a licence, removing a nest or culling a ‘pest’ bird you must have actioned non -lethal control measures first.

Putting together a comprehensive bird management plan should be your first task, you can research this yourself with the links provided bellow (The interview with David Brown, Senior Adviser for Bird Licensing at Natural England goes in to detail on this) or have a Contego projects manager come in and pull all the evidence together on your behalf.

The information required includes but not limited to includes:

Overview of site – day to day operations

Overview of location; specifically, in relation to SSSI sites

Pest bird species present

Detailed overview of issues caused by species with evidence

Number of nests


A control plan including:

Control measures in place

Non-lethal measures explored costings and evidence

Percentage of gulls requiring controlling

Ecologist survey if required


The law.

All wild birds are protected under the wildlife and countryside act 1981. Gull licences are required across the UK for the control of gulls, these licences are only issued if strict licensing criteria is met.

Licensing requirements for health and safety looks at two main things.

Firstly, detailed reporting relating to the specific risk of not controlling gulls on site. Lots of specific detail; what’s likely to happen if you don’t manage the gulls on site? Provide as much evidence as you can for this.

Secondly, we need to know the alternatives to lethal control that you’ve tried. You’re required to have tried everything reasonably practical before permission for lethal control can be granted.

If there isn’t anything that you could reasonably do, you need to tell us why: is it unlikely to work? Can the client not afford it?

Use your full knowledge of the site, gull behaviour and your client to evidence this. Lethal control should be seen very much as a last resort.

The licensing varies slightly from England, Scotland and Wales. For more information view the links bellow.


England: Licensing Requirements


Contego In Conversation With: Natural England. Gull Licensing Requirements 2021 


The British Pest control association have produced a blog on the screening requirements in England:


Scotland: Licensing Requirements


Wales: Licensing Requirements