Devizes has been refused the chance to clamp down on an influx of troublesome gulls.

The birds cause havoc at homes near the Hopton Industrial Estate in the north-east of the town, where people have complained of disturbed sleep and mess.

Under current regulations, herring gulls and lesser black backed gulls are both protected by law. It is illegal to injure the birds, their eggs, or their nests without permission.

Devizes Town Council had hoped that their application for an egg removal licence would demonstrate that action was needed for reasons of the town’s public health.

Natural England have now refused their application for a licence, despite extensive work from the council staff on the application.

A total of 900 residents had diligently filled in a survey to highlight the problems they had suffered as a result of the gull’s noise and destruction to property, affecting sleep and mental health.

READ MORE: Hundreds join survey to re-start gull cull in Devizes

Cllr Laura Mayes, who helped launch the survey alongside Cllr Kelvin Nash, said it was “totally unacceptable” for people in the town to still has worked for years to try find a solution over the gulls.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Gulls allowed? Parasitic pest or feathered friend?

She said: “Our only glimmer of hope is that Natural England have asked for Devizes to be part of a pilot scheme they are running to find a way to manage gulls in urban communities.  We are in the process of finding out more about this.  
“It is totally unacceptable for people to have their lives ruined by these animals.”
Meetings are being organised with Danny Kruger MP, local businesses, Natural England and Wiltshire Council 's Environmental Health Department to discuss the issue.

 Mrs Mayes added: “I realise that people will be extremely disappointed with this news, but can assure you I will continue to fight for a solution to this dreadful problem.”

Natural England has been contacted for comment.

It comes as Mark Mangham, who is also running in the upcoming council elections, came across concerns from residents near Flax Mill Park Whitehorse Way and Combe Walk.

He hopes to explore wider approaches, such as more road cleaning and preventative measures, to identify why the gulls target specific areas of the Devizes area, before approaching other methods.

In 2020 a site specific licence was sought and refused by Natural England - on the grounds that non-lethal methods had not been sufficiently exhausted.

The new rules for obtaining a licence were introduced following pressure from wildlife campaigner Chris Packham. 

Opponents to the rule-change say it stifles local councils and makes it more difficult to clamp down on pests problems.