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Friday, 23 August, 2002, 12:32 GMT 13:32 UK
'Polluting' starlings bawled out
Blackpool promenade at night
The starlings congregate under Blackpool's piers
Loudspeakers are being used to evict up to 40,000 starlings whose droppings are risking Blackpool beach's blue flag status.

Up to a quarter of a ton of droppings are thought to be deposited in the sea underneath the piers every night.

The speakers are used to play distress calls to the roosting birds, which it is hoped will frighten them away.

Without the work, council officials fear the beach in the town will fail to gain a prestigious EU beach quality award.


Our huge starling population could risk the town's [bid for] the coveted Seaside Award

Kevin Garritty, Blackpool Borough Council
On Friday, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) said the problem was more to do with EU bureaucracy, because most of the beach was unaffected.

Tim Melling, the society's conservation officer for Lancashire, told BBC News Online said: "If just one reading fails of the many carried out by the Environment Agency there is a risk the whole beach will fail the bathing quality standards.

"Scaring birds like this is a tried and tested technique, but it has a short-lived effect, so you have to do it frequently to try and break the bird's habit.

"The difficulty however, is the problem is likely to be exported elsewhere in Blackpool."

Starling
The starlings roost together for safety
The pilot project to evict the birds has been carried out by Blackpool council officials in conjunction with the Environment Agency.

Kevin Garritty, head of the council's environmental services, said action was necessary because the birds would not move on otherwise.

"Our huge starling population could place at risk the town's ambition to achieve the coveted Seaside Award," he said.

An Environment Agency spokeswoman said the readings it has taken at Blackpool could "give a false indication of bathing water qualities in the area".

She said: "We take 20 samples at various locations along the beach between May and September to test for bacteria levels in the water.

"If more than one exceeds those levels then the whole beach will fail."


Click here to go to Lancashire
See also:

16 Aug 02 | England
01 Aug 02 | Politics
24 Apr 02 | Science/Nature
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