The Rochester Bridge Trust is facing an increasingly urgent and expensive problem caused by pigeons.
Feral pigeons are descended from rock pigeons that naturally roost on sheltered ledges. The road bridges at Rochester, which are owned and maintained by the Trust, provide excellent roosting ledges for pigeons, especially underneath the carriageway.
The problem is not the pigeons themselves but their droppings or guano. The guano is corrosive and over a very short time can strip the protective paint coating off the steel parts of the bridge. Once the paint is removed, the steel starts to rust, leading to a loss of strength in the material and weakening of the structure of the bridge. Critically, pigeon droppings can also be hazardous to human health, because they harbour parasites and spores which are both toxic and a source of disease. Workers coming into contact with the guano need to wear special clothing and masks to protect their health.
The cost of putting right the latest damage caused by pigeons and installing nets and grilles to deter the birds from roosting in the future will amount to nearly £50,000, when works take place later in 2014. The Trust has had to apply for Listed Building Consent to put the measures in place under the Old Bridge.
The Trust’s Bridge Clerk and Chief Executive, Sue Threader, said “The public can help deal with this problem by not feeding birds from the Rochester and Strood Esplanades or the bridges, as the crusts and crumbs left on the pavements provide a ready food source for pigeons, vermin, and aggressive gulls that are also becoming a problem for pedestrians and visitors who wish to enjoy a view of the River Medway.
1. The Rochester Bridge Trust is a charitable trust that exists to maintain the old and new bridges at Rochester and serve the travelling public. It is the only surviving bridge trust still serving its original purpose, and it has served the people of Kent since 1399. The Trust also supports numerous community and education projects across historic Kent and Medway.
2. The Trust’s assets all derive from endowments of land and money in the 14th and 15th centuries and are carefully managed in order to provide an income to fund bridge maintenance and local charitable grants. The Trust receives no external funding and is regulated by the Charity Commission.
For more information:
The Rochester Bridge Trust
Kent ME1 1QE
Tel: 01634 846706
Fax: 01634 840125