PLANS by the Scottish Parliament to spend £80,000 using birds of prey to scare away pigeons have been called into question.

Hawks and falcons are brought in regularly to fly over the building to deter pigeons from making it their home.

But MSPs say the unwanted birds have become wise to the scheme and simply wait for them to be taken away by their handler before settling back on the roofs and ledges of the £414 million building.

The parliament has renewed its maintenance contract – which includes an £80,000 on the birds of prey –for another five years with a possible two-year extension.

It is believed that pigeon numbers are as low as they are likely to go but the parliament believes the hawks and falcons are necessary to stop them increasing again.

Lothian Tory MSP Miles Briggs, a member of the cross-party animal welfare group at Holyrood, said it was time to reconsider spending so much money on the bird handler.

He said: “I don’t think they have looked at how effective it is actually being.

“For a lot of building users it has become a bit of a joke. The pigeons are sitting up on Arthur’s Seat waiting for him to go away.

“The pigeons seem to be quite bright. The effectiveness of him turning up now and again is questionable at least.”

A parliament spokesman said: “Like many buildings in Edinburgh, a small number of pigeons visit regularly. We are aware the problem can never be fully eradicated.”