BAe or ‘Carry on up the Ribble’

You may recall those ‘nice people’ at BAe Warton. When they are not selling warplanes to countries like Saudi Arabia to use to kill men women and children in Yemen they have a ‘bee in their bonnet’ about gulls. That is until their plans to cull large numbers around Warton aerodrome in Lancashire were stymied by the UK Court of Appeal.

We reported on the episode about five years ago when a protracted argument in the Courts which BAe initially won was challenged by the RSPB.

BAe had first sought to cull the gull population in 2010 but it was blocked. They succeeded in getting the green light when they tried again in 2013 and subsequently the High Court approved the cull in 2014. The United Kingdom’s most significant bird life protection body the RSPB then took the unusual step (having lost a challenge in the lower courts) of taking it to the court of appeal where their appeal was upheld in 2015. Here are the links:

https://community.rspb.org.uk/…/rspb-statement-in-response-…

https://www.theguardian.com/…/25/herring-gull-cull-green-li…
https://www.theguardian.com/…/legal-challenge-to-herring-gu…
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lancashire-31971306

For us the matter which we articulated a concern about at the time would have ended there but then we came across this study conducted since into the behavioural habits of black-backed gulls ( a significant proportion of the cull targeted group) on the Ribble around Warton. It is an in depth piece and so its takes a bit or ‘wading through’ if you’ll forgive the pun. However its conclusions are interesting because from the behavioral patterns observed it would seen that the black-backed gull population of the Ribble (which has been around that area a tad longer than BAe) pose very little safety hazard to the airport and certainly not enough to justify the proposed cull of thousands of birds that BAe sought. Here’s the link:

https://www.bto.org/si…/default/files/publications/rr689.pdf

Footnote: The black-backed gulls were lucky to have the RSPB and the UK Court of Appeal. When it comes to the deadly toys that BAe sell to Saudi Arabia the Yemenis are not so lucky. Still as we reported recently a higher court than the UK Supreme Court – the ICC – may redress that balance yet!

Bernard Moffatt, Assistant General Secretary Celtic League (31 December 2019)

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