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Wandsworth London B.C. v Railtrack Plc, Court of Appeal

31 July 2001
The issues

Nuisance – Highways – Pigeon Droppings

The facts

The claimant sought a declaration that the defendant was liable to abate a public nuisance. The nuisance consisted of pigeons, which rousted under a railway bridge. The Claimant also sought an injunction requiring Railtrack to carry out works. The Claimant was successful and the defendant appealed.

The decision

1. Where there was a public nuisance on the defendant’s land it did not matter if it was created by the defendant or a third party or naturally.

2. If the defendant was aware of it and had a reasonable opportunity of abating it and was able to abate it and had decided not to do so, he was liable.

3. The judge was entitled to have found as a fact that there was a public nuisance. The cause of the nuisance was not relevant if the defendant had knowledge, means and opportunity to abate. There was no reason why the capital cost of pigeon-proofing the bridge should not fall wholly on Railtrack.

The local authority was entitled in addition to damages in respect of the extra costs of pavement cleaning up to the date that Railtrack gave the local authority permission to abate the nuisance at its own expense.

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