Strumpshaw Fen warden backs Say No To Pylons campaign

PUBLISHED: 06:30 23 November 2012

Strumpshaw Fen warden, Tim Strudwick, looking out for otters which are making regular appearances at the Fen. Picture: Denise Bradley

Strumpshaw Fen warden, Tim Strudwick, looking out for otters which are making regular appearances at the Fen. Picture: Denise Bradley

Sweeping the marshes with his binoculars, RSPB warden Tim Strudwick is keen to highlight how the broad open landscape enhances Strumpshaw Fen’s magical attraction.

What draws visitors to the pristine reserve near Norwich is not just the birds, the playful otters and its other abundant wildlife, but the timeless setting “without too many artificial structures”.

Mr Strudwick, 49, who has worked for the RSPB for 21 years, 15 as the warden at Strumpshaw Fen, has joined the growing list of wildlife champions supporting the EDP’s Say No to Pylons campaign.

The immediate response to our campaign, launched in the EDP yesterday, has shown people’s visceral opposition to the idea of giant pylons marching across the Broads.

National Grid has confirmed it is looking at ways of bringing power ashore when the massive East Anglia One windfarm is built off the Suffolk coast, and one possible plan would involve a 25-mile power line from Lowestoft to Norwich, potentially peppering the Waveney or Yare valleys with pylons.

A spokesman said detailed route plans would be published next summer; in the meantime South Norfolk District Council has pledged to lead the way in organising public meetings and ensuring adequate consultation.

Mr Strudwick said: “The landscape at Strumpshaw Fen is a very important part of the visitors’ experience and pylons would not be something I would like to see.

“From the RSPB’s perspective, we would be concerned about the impact on birds.

“There are a large number of wintering birds across the Yare Valley reserves, not just Strumpshaw Fen, and big heavy birds like swans and geese can’t change course very quickly and are very prone to collisions with power lines.

“Going back 20 years in the Yare Valley Reserves we felt we were losing more swans from pylon collisions than we were hatching.

“Since then we have been working hard to get pylons removed with some success. In the past five years or so that has happened at Strumpshaw Fen and on Buckenham Marshes.”

Mr Strudwick said fortunately the precious marsh habitats were protected by a range of conservation designations and he hoped due heed would be paid to the environment.

While recognising that power lines could not always go underground he said planners should strive to find a route that caused the least harm to the landscape - and not look for the cheapest, straight-line solution.

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