Swans safer after electricity company fits bird diverters to overhead power lines near Peterborough

Swans will be safer when they fly in to feed in a Peterborough fenland field, thanks to the region’s power network company installing bird diverters on overhead power cables.

Sunday, 14th March 2021, 4:55 am
Newly installed bird diverters. EMN-211203-125649001

Around 80 diverters have just been installed by UK Power Networks along 500 metres of power cable after several swans collided with the power line.

Whooper swans fly in low each night to feed in a field at Thorney Dyke, near Peterborough before they roost overnight.

The fluorescent safety deterrents were added to overhead cables by linesmen who are trained to work safely on live power lines, without turning off electricity supplies in the area.

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This means swans can see the lines clearly as they fly in, while ensuring less interruption to power supplies from bird strikes ‘tripping’ the circuits.

UK Power Networks is the country’s biggest electricity distributor, managing local power lines and substations for more than eight million homes and businesses across London, the South East and the East of England, making sure the lights stay on.

The company’s lead field engineer for the area, Stuart Clark, said the problem with the swans occurred after the swans decided a recently-harvested sugar beet field was the best place to feast each evening.

It was brought to their attention by Graham Porter, who runs The Waterfowl Sanctuary in Godmanchester. He warned them that there are around 1,000 swans in the area and he is currently looking after a young injured swan.

A rescued whooper cygnet at The Waterfowl Sanctuary. EMN-211203-125637001

Stuart said: “When Graham brought the problem to our attention I went out to see what was happening. The birds fly low to feed and they cannot always see the cable against the backdrop of a field. If they hit a cable it can injure them and cause a power interruption.

“This is why we fit bird diverters to help steer the swans away from the power lines and keep them safe. We are helping prevent the birds being injured and also helping to ensure reliable power supplies to our customers.”

Graham said: “I am delighted with the compassionate response from UK Power Networks and their willingness to improve the situation for the benefit of people and swans.”

Sustainability is a key focus for the company, which partners with wildlife trusts and is delivering a Green Action Plan to help reduce carbon emissions. It recently became the first network operator in the country to be awarded the Carbon Trust Standard.