£75,000 project will remove stretch of overhead lines at nature reserve between March and Whittlesey

PUBLISHED: 18:31 17 September 2017 | UPDATED: 18:31 17 September 2017

Being removed, the overhead lines at the nature reserve near March

Being removed, the overhead lines at the nature reserve near March

Archant

Work is underway on a £75,000 scheme to remove a stretch of overhead lines at a nature reserve between March and Whittlesey.

(left to right) Martin Le Roux and Charlie Kitchin at the reserve where the overhead lines once passed over(left to right) Martin Le Roux and Charlie Kitchin at the reserve where the overhead lines once passed over

The project, which is on land managed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), will see UK Power Networks replace 1km of overhead lines with 1.5km of underground cable.

The site at March Farmers on the Nene Washes will also benefit from the removal of seven poles and repositioning other electrical equipment.

The site is flooded in winter and attracts many wintering birds, including whooper swans from Iceland, Bewick’s swans from Russia and around half-a-dozen species of dabbling ducks including pintails, teals, shovelers, gadwalls and wigeons.

These works will help prevent birds flying into the overhead lines in the area. The scheme is being jointly funded by the RSPB and UK Power Networks.

Martin Le Roux, a field engineer for UK Power Networks, said: “We are doing this work to help prevent birds flying into overhead power lines.

“As an environmentally aware company we are committed to finding ways to limit the impact overhead lines have on the environment, while meeting our customers’ needs for power.

“We will be starting work shortly on laying the underground cables and once that is completed, we will remove the overhead lines and poles.

“This will make the whole area much safer for the birds that have made it their home and we are working closely with the RSPB to ensure the wildlife is disturbed as little as possible.”

Charlie Kitchin, Nene Washes Site Manager for the RSPB, said: “We are in the process of returning the site to wet grassland with the objective of attracting more water fowl so we want it to be as safe for them as we can.

“A tremendous number of birds use the site, last winter around 10,000 golden plovers, 11,000 lapwings and 2,000 Icelandic black godwits were present.

“The RSPB are particularly concerned for the safety of the recently established population of cranes in the Fens, last winter 33 birds were regularly using March Farmers.

“The Nene Washes are probably most important as a site for breeding waders such as snipe and black-tailed godwit, they nest on the floodplain meadows and are looking for open country with no obstacles such as overhead lines as potential hazards. We need to eliminate as many risks to them as we can and this project has the potential to make an enormous difference.”

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