SSEN works with charity to protect swans from striking Caversham cables

Swan flying against blue sky

As a responsible network operator, Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) works to protect the environment and the wildlife in the vicinity its infrastructure, and has recently taken steps to protect swans as they fly to and from their Reading residence. 

Last year, SSEN was alerted to the potential danger of swans striking the overhead cables near Caversham Lakes, when a member of the public contacted The Swan Sanctuary after seeing the birds flying close to the cables and witnessing two of them coming in to contact with the network. 

A charity dedicated to the care and treatment of swans and waterfowl since the early 1980s, The Swan Sanctuary was able to work with SSEN and advise its engineers on the best locations for bird divertors to be installed on overhead cables near to the flight path of the swans living at the lakes; a programme of works that was completed at the start of the year and ahead of the critical time for birds nesting and breeding in the area. The divertors are designed and placed so that they alert the birds with alarming them, which results in them avoiding flying near the live lines without driving them away from their original route.

Danielle Royce is SSEN’s Head of Region for Thames Valley and is also SSEN’s network operator’s Business Champion for Wildlife at the Energy Networks Association (ENA) in their work to protect wildlife and, in particular, swans from coming in to contact with power lines and electrical equipment. She said: “While we carefully plan our networks so they don’t affect the nearby flora and fauna, we’re aware that many animals and birds can change their environment over time, and that can mean taking up residence near established electrical equipment. 

“Safety is a priority at SSEN and we were delighted to work with The Swan Sanctuary to keep these beautiful birds safe from the possibility of striking the overhead cables near Caversham Lakes, and averting the potential for power cuts to local homes and businesses as a result of damage to the network. 

“I’d like to remind our customers that they can report damage or issues were they see the potential for damage, by calling the free-to-call 105 emergency number or downloading our Power track app to their mobile devices so they can report any network problems at the click of a button.” 

Stephen Knight, Trustee of The Swan Sanctuary added: “I would like to say a heartfelt thanks to Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks from The Swan Sanctuary and Swan Support for – once again - the assistance they have given in protecting and caring for the welfare of the swans, whether it be in the remote isles of the north or here in the south east at the Caversham Lakes in Reading.” 

In addition to reporting concerns for wildlife near its network, SSEN’s customers can call 105 or download SSEN’s Power Track app to report power cuts as well as damage to electricity power lines, substations or equipment that could put themselves, or someone else, in danger. Customers should always avoid approaching damaged or fallen power lines, keep at least five metres away, and report incidents immediately. 

Network issues to look out for include:  

  • Damaged or fallen power lines
  • Damage to, or interference with, electricity substations
  • Vehicles or construction activities too close to power lines
  • Damaged or exposed electricity cables
  • Trees too close to power lines or substations

Please click on the links to find out more about SSEN’s Power Track app and the 105 number. If you would like further information on staying safe when working near power lines, please go to http://www.ssen.co.uk/SafetyLeaflets and https://www.ssen.co.uk/safety/