Flying swans blamed for power outages

Swans on Lough Neagh
Swans on Lough Neagh

Whooper swans are flying into high voltage power lines along Lough Neagh causing regular electricity outages to homes and businesses.

SDLP Cllr Declan McAlinden said it has become a regular occurrence mornings and evenings with local residents becoming increasingly frustrated.

Cllr McAlinden said it appears more prevalent in the Derrytrasna Bannfoot area where swans are roosting.

And NIE has admitted that the outages are directly related to swans flying into their power lines.

Cllr McAlinden said: “Initially residents, myself included, thought it was the wind and weather in general but as it was happening on a more regular occurrence residents were becoming more frustrated and concerned.

“Power is going off in the morning from 7-8am for about a minute and the same again in the evening between 6-7pm. Timing clocks for heating/cooking are being knocked off and are having to be reset.

“NIE have recently cut branches close to power lines to help prevent the outages but it’s still happening.

“I rang NIE, who by the way are excellent to work with, and have suggested putting ‘fault indicators’ on the line to determine where the fault lies. They have suggested in the past that it might be birds and in particular swans! This probably is the answer.

“Derrytrasna is at the edge of Lough Neagh and the swans fly regularly over the line in the morning and evening to roost along the shores.

“Hopefully, if it is the swans, they then can fix markers to the lines to prevent them from flying into them and then in turn prevent this long running issue.”

A spokesperson for NIE Networks said: “Customers in the Derrytrasna area have experienced some interruption to their power supply recently due to Whooper Swans colliding with the high voltage overhead line network.

“Swans are present in this area each year and we have previously installed bird diverters on the overhead lines near to where the swans usually nest.

“However, this year the swans have nested further inland and unfortunately some are flying into the lines usually around dawn and dusk when the conductors are more difficult for the swans to see.

“We have installed fault indicators to confirm the location of the faults and we have been undertaking regular patrols of the line.

“Bird and wildlife welfare is very important to us and we are looking at the feasibility of erecting further bird diverters in the area where the swans are now currently nesting and we will continue to monitor the situation closely.”