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Power lines removed from wild beauty spot to boost bird population

PUBLISHED: 12:14 21 January 2020 | UPDATED: 13:15 21 January 2020

South Walsham Marshes before the power line removal. Picture: UK Power Networks

South Walsham Marshes before the power line removal. Picture: UK Power Networks

UK Power Networks

Increasing numbers of birds will be able to breed after overhead power lines were removed from an area of marshland.

South Walsham Marshes after the power lines and poles were removed by UK Power Networks and the Broads Authority. Picture: UK Power NetworksSouth Walsham Marshes after the power lines and poles were removed by UK Power Networks and the Broads Authority. Picture: UK Power Networks

Around 2.4km of the lines and 24 poles have been taken down on South Walsham Marshes, part of the Broads National Park, by UK Power Networks and the Broads Authority.

Electricity will now be supplied with underground cables after the £750,000 project was given the go-ahead by electricity industry regulator Ofgem in a bid to improve Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and National Parks.

The work was done to improve the view, avoiding the risk of birds flying into overhead lines and making electricity supplies more reliable in the long term.

Will Burchnall, project manager for the Broads Authority, said: "The undergrounding work at South Walsham Marshes has been a spectacular success. Removing the overhead lines, and particularly the double poles which supported them, has significantly improved the views across the marshes. It has also made the area safer for the thousands of birds who travel in from as far away as Iceland to use the area as their winter feeding grounds."

The area is used as seasonal grazing land with water levels next to the River Bure kept purposely high to make it an ideal habitat for birds such as common cranes.

Kevin Hart, head of nature reserves at Norfolk Wildlife Trust, said: "The visual impact of removing the poles and overhead cables from South Walsham Marshes has been significant - the now unimpeded views of the landscape with wide open skies brings back the impression of remoteness and wildness. As well as enhancing the character of the marshes, removal of the overhead lines will also lead to enhanced breeding productivity of marshland ground nesting species such as lapwing and redshank. Carrion crows and other avian predators can no longer perch on the cables, pinpointing where nests are on the ground to prey on. The marshes will provide better breeding habitat for a number of species as a result of this work."

Shaun Barrell, AONB project lead for UK Power Networks, said: "Sustainability and the environment are very important to us and we are happy that our workforce have made a big difference to this important area of Norfolk."

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