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29/08/13: Special diverters to save thousands of migrating birds

The skies above West Lancashire are now safer for thousands of migrating birds thanks to the installation of more than 150 special flight diverters.

Engineers from Electricity North West have been working with the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) at Martin Mere in Burscough to help raise the visibility of overhead powerlines for the 30,000 pink-footed geese and whooper swans which migrate to the area every year from Iceland.

The project will reduce the risk of birds flying into the 1.6km of live electricity lines near the reserve by putting two types of bird diverters – special attachments to the lines – to ensure the cables stand out to large birds which have poor manoeuvrability.

More than 150 special bird diverters were installed in West Lancashire by Electricity North West

Steve Cox, future network manager for Electricity North West, said: “We hope that the diverters and our subsequent research will go on to help birds and electricity customers across the UK.

“By working closely with WWT Martin Mere we discovered this was a sensitive section of the network as it was located in a known flight path and we are delighted to be able to help protect these wonderful birds.

“By limiting the chances of any collisions, the special diverters will also reduce any possible impact on customer power supplies.”

WWT Martin Mere centre manager, Nick Brooks, said: “Over autumn and winter WWT Martin Mere offers a fantastic wildlife experience of up to 30,000 pink-footed geese and 2,500 whooper swans that can be viewed up close on the reserve.

“We work closely with local farmers to keep a lot of the birds on site during the day but inevitably some do fly off to local areas and this project with Electricity North West is invaluable to ensure both the safety of the swans and geese as well as ensuring the local community are not affected by these large numbers of birds through power cuts – they can simply enjoy watching and hearing them overhead.”

As part of Electricity North West’s ongoing flight diverter programme the power operator will be sponsoring a student from Lancaster University to research and analyse the efficiency of the two diverters over the next year. The vital results will be used throughout the North West in any future diverter installations.

West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper, said: “I congratulate Electricity North West and WWT Martin Mere on working collaboratively on the installation of these special diverters. I am sure there will be many positive lessons learnt from this project that can be successfully applied in other areas with similar issues.

“Having worked with both Electricity North West and WWT Martin Mere on this issue the investment in this project is to be welcomed to better protect local residents power supply and improve wildlife safety.”

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