THE letter two weeks ago from the Divisional Environmental Health Officer from Wycombe District Council informs us that WDC “will be proceeding on the basis of our power to mitigate any nuisance caused by pigeons in a built up area under Section 74 of the Public Health Act 1961”.

Whilst Section 74 of the Public Health Act 1961 does allow the council to proceed with abating or mitigating any nuisance caused by pigeons, it clearly states that this section does not authorise a local authority to do anything in contravention of Part I of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Part 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 confirms that it is illegal to kill any wild bird, or to interfere with a nesting bird or its eggs unless the species is listed under the relevant General Licence (feral pigeons are listed).

The General Licence can only be acted upon in circumstances where the user is able to demon­strate, if legally challenged, which non-lethal methods of control have been tried and found to fail and why these methods have failed. The Ge­neral Licence clearly states that birds may only be killed if they represent a demonstrable risk to public health and safety. Birds cannot be killed in order to protect the fabric of a building.

For clarity, here is an overview of the General Licence: “This licence may only be relied upon where the activities are carried out for the purpose of preserving public health or public safety, and users must comply with licence terms and conditions. These conditions include the requirement that the user must be satisfied that legal (including non-lethal) methods of resolving the problem are ineffective or impracticable.”

In summary, lethal controls can only be used as a last resort. Anyone acting outside the terms and conditions of the General Licence can be arrested by the police and publicly prosecuted .

Kim Pearce, Lime Avenue, High Wycombe.