The Scottish Government has been accused of “passing the buck” on tackling the region’s seagull menace.

The birds have been causing problems across Dumfries and Galloway for years with Kirkcudbright residents saying their mental health was suffering as a result of the noise the gulls were making.

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has asked Environment Minister Mairi McAllan what plans the Scottish Government had to tackle the nuisance gulls – only for her to say it was a matter for councils and property owners to deal with.

The Labour MSP said: “It is deeply disappointing that the Scottish Government are simply passing the buck when it comes to the growing gull problem in our town centres.

“In 2008, then Environment Minister Mike Russell visited Dumfries promising to be tough on seagulls and tough on the causes of seagulls but, in fact, the government has strengthened the protection of gulls and now they want nothing to do with tackling the nuisance being caused.

“Dumfries and Galloway Council has tried birds of prey to scare the gulls away and introduced the egg and nest removal scheme, giving people who have nesting gulls on their roof some respite.

“Obviously, this was halted during the pandemic and new restrictions from Scottish Natural Heritage put extra conditions on a licence for such a scheme but it’s important it’s fully back up and running again soon and expanded across the region.

“The Scottish Government must revisit their promise of 13 years ago and bring people together again to come up with a far better response, including stronger littering laws and direct support to fund gull proofing on buildings.

“It’s clear the current strategy just isn’t working and is far from being tough on anything. Simply saying it’s up to councils and property owners is just not good enough.”

In her written response to Mr Smyth, Ms McAllan said: “Local authorities are expected to respond to statutory nuisance complaints on council owned property, such as where the deposit of bird droppings may have an effect on public health.

“The responsibility for dealing with nuisance gulls on private property is for the relevant owner although local authorities can provide advice and assistance and have powers under environmental protection legislation to tackle nuisances.”