RSPB loses case to stop seagull cull on Lancashire coast

The charity said Defra had set a worrying precedent for bird conservation

The High Court has upheld a ruling to cull  lesser black-backed seagulls in the Lancashire coast, a day after campaigners said they fear the Government plans to trap and kill beavers in Devon.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) argued that by sanctioning a cull in the Ribble Estuary by an aviation firm, the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) set a dangerous and unlawful precedent for bird conservation in the UK.

It launched the case after Defra granted British Aerospace Systems (BAE) a licence to cull 552 pairs of breeding less black-backed gulls and herring gulls in the Ribble and Alt Estuaries Special Protection Area last May.

This was in addition to permission BAE was given to cull 500 pairs of Herring Gulls and 200 pairs of less black-back gulls at the same site.

The charity said that it understood BAE had explored all other avenues, and must cull the birds in order to stop them posing a safety risk by getting sucked into jet engines.

But it said it was particularly concerned that the Secretary of State thought it was acceptable to lose up to a fifth of a breeding population at a protected site.

However, Mr Justice Mitting ruled that the charity’s claims were “unfounded”, and dismissed the RSPB's application for judicial review. He also ordered that the charity pay £10,000 in legal costs.

A beaver mounts a log (Getty Images) A beaver mounts a log (Getty Images)
The ruling comes a day after campaigners told The Independent that Defra was considering culling River Otters in Devon - a consideration the department said should be on the table, but has no current plans of implementing. 

Responding to the judgement, the RSPB said: “This judgment is deeply worrying as we believe it fundamentally misinterprets the law as it relates to protecting birds. 

“The judge appears to condone the Government writing off part of why the Ribble Estuary is important for nature conservation without compensation measures and, as such, sets a deeply disturbing precedent for our most important sites for wildlife – we are urgently looking at our options to appeal this judgment.”

BAE said in a statement after the ruling: “We believe that a reduction in the gull population will reduce the risk of a bird strike incident on or in the vicinity of Warton aerodrome, and therefore will ensure the safety and well-being of local residents, aircrew and employees.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee