A GIANT truck manufacturer is using robot power to get rid of an airborne menace.
Peterlee-based Caterpillar had been suffering from up to 200 seagulls nesting on the roof of its factory, on the North West Industrial Estate.
It happened twice a year and caused problems including blocked drains and flooding.
But Caterpillar came up with a novel solution when the factory’s senior facility manager, Tony Whittle, spotted an advertisement for a company in the East Lothian area of Scotland.
The company, called Robop, makes solar-powered robotic peregrine falcons which flap their wings, shake their heads and can produce four different peregrine falcon calls which scare off the gulls.
It proved just the job for Caterpillar and Tony said: “This is a problem we had for 10 years and we should have done this sooner.
“We would get 200 gulls twice a year and they would nest on the roof to have their young.
“It was a nuisance. When they had left, the nests and any dead birds would wash into the gutters and they would become clogged up.
“It was expensive to clean up afterwards.”
Robop managing director John Donald said: “We have sold these things to companies in 15 countries.
“Our clients have included a hydro plant in Canada and a saltmine in North Yorkshire.
“They are most popular for frightening off gulls in the UK, but outside of there it seems to be pigeons.”
Caterpillar was provided with six “falcons” and Mr Donald said: “They had 200 nesting seagulls and they make some mess.
“We had one store in Inverness and we told them to clean the roof before we put the falcons on.
“The cleaning contractor took off four tonnes of mess.”
The solar-powered robotic birds were invented by Scots entrepreneurs Bob McIntyre and Alan Davie.
Mr Donald said Robop’s other clients have included Schipol airport in Amsterdam and Scottish Widows.