Birds steer clear of power line danger

Bird diverters installed on power lines around Martin Mere
Bird diverters installed on power lines around Martin Mere
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Power cuts caused by birds hitting overheard lines in Lancashire have halved, thanks to the use of special diverters.

Last winter 150 of the diverters - special attachments which increase visibility - were installed by Electricity North West to power lines near the Martin Mere Wetland Centre site in Burscough, which were being struck by migrating swans and geese.

Since then, a study by Lancaster University student Chris Taylor has been carried out, revealing the number of power cuts caused by bird collisions has decreased from 103 to 49.

Engineers are now installing a further 200 diverters along 2km of overhead power lines to help raise the visibility for 30,000 whooper swans and pink-footed geese that migrate every year from Iceland.

Steve Cox of Electricity North West said: “We’re delighted that these special bird diverters have had a positive impact and helped to protect birds and also reduce power cuts for residents in the area.

“Working closely with WWT Martin Mere we’re set to install even more diverters over the next year and we will work to incorporate key findings from the study in our best practice policies across the North West to help protect more of these wonderful birds.”

Key findings include that whooper swans rather than pink-footed geese were more likely to collide with power lines due to their flight path and there is an increased risk of collision if electricity lines are in an open landscape or close to surface water.

WWT Martin Mere centre manager, Nick Brooks, said: “Through this innovative partnership with Electricity North West we have secured both the safety of these swans and geese as well as ensuring the local community are not affected by power cuts.”

The results from the unique study will also be used throughout the North West and shared with other power operators across the country.