Wednesday, 13 July 2016


As you know, I have been watching the breeding gulls at the old British Shoe works on the outskirts of Leicester. I was well aware that the building was ear-marked for demolition, but I had been told that it wouldn't take place until October this year.

Gulls Not Welcome
On May 26th I had a drive over to the site for the first time in about two weeks. Gulls were feeding at the Casepak Recycle Centre on Sunningdale Road and all looked well. Things took a major nose dive when I viewed the site from Scudamore Road. The demolition gang had moved in and the building was coming down.

Demolition Work Begins at Sunningdale Business Park (Formerly British Shoe)

I was furious - why knock it down during the breeding season? Why not do it outside of the breeding season? Furious or not, I wasn't that surprised, as the owners had not been very friendly. towards me or the gulls.

In the absence of a Police Wildlife Liaison Officer in Leicestershire, I contacted the Environmental Department at the Leicester Council. Two of the Nature Conservation Officers visited the site and ordered that the work should be stopped until an ecologist had made an assessment along with a structural engineer.

It turned out that the ecologist just wanted a pay day. A licence was downloaded from Natural England and the work carried on. This was done without consultation with the officers from the council. Luckily I was keeping an eye on proceedings and spotted that work had started again. Once more the work was stopped.

The downloadable licence from Natural England allows certain species to be killed or their nests destroyed if there is a risk to public health or public safety. Lesser Black-backed Gulls can be killed or there nests destroyed with this licence and Herring Gull nests can be destroyed but the actual birds can't be killed.

I argued that the licence was not applicable as the gulls were not causing a danger to public health or safety and that there were now Herring Gull chicks on the roof .

A new ecologist was employed by those carrying out the demolition work and apparently a licence application has been sent to Natural England. Even if that turns out to be successful the Nature Conservation Officer now dealing with the case will recommend that no more demolition of the remaining roof is done until the young gulls fledge.

This has given the young gulls time to mature and tonight I saw that the first ones had fledged. Six juveniles were enjoying the freedom their wings have given them. Many more will hopefully fledge this week. I have a suspicion that some gulls abandoned their breeding attempt and moved to another roof and started again. Some nests may have been destroyed during the initial phase of the demolition, but I can't prove it.

Not everyones favourite bird group but I am chuffed to have helped a few young gulls start their adventures.

Juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull, Scudamore Road, Braunstone Frith, Leicester, July 13th 2016

1 comment:

  1. All I can say Carl is well done for your perseverance in standing up to the developers, they would have got away with it if it had not been for you doing whats right and fair play to you. We should all take a leaf out of your book and start standing up for whats right in conservation. Great to know the gulls will now have a chance of fledging.