Swans safer thanks to overhead bird diverters

Swans will be safer when they fly in to feed in a Cambridgeshire fenland field, thanks to bird diverters that have been installed on overhead power cables. 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.

UK Power Networks lead field engineer for the area, Stuart Clark, said the problem 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 and is currently looking after a young injured swan.

Graham says there are around 1,000 swans in the area.

Stuart says: “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 Porter comments: “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.

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