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Power firm re-routes underground cables at largest man-made nature reserve in Europe

An electricity firm is investing more than £1million re-routing underground cables on land which is to be flooded to create a bird sanctuary.

From Press releases - 9 October 2017 12:00 AM

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) plans to intentionally flood parts of its land at Wallasea Island, Essex, in a landmark conservation and engineering scheme on a scale never before attempted in the UK and the largest of its type in Europe.

While most of the project has been designed around existing underground electricity cables on the island, a section of the equipment operated by UK Power Networks could become under water and difficult to maintain.

So the company, which owns and maintains the vast network of underground cables, overhead electricity lines and substations across East Anglia, London and the South East, is re-routing 1.7km of cable beneath bund walls created by the RSPB to segregate the island into separate areas for different birds to live.

The firm is also taking the opportunity to install an extra cable duct to allow for a future electricity supply to a new visitors centre on the site – so helping to complete the innovative RSPB scheme.

UK Power Networks project manager Ian Robinson said: “It is a pleasure to be involved with this scheme in the knowledge that our equipment will be safely positioned across the isolated Island.

“Our part of the project should take approximately eight weeks and we’ll be working very closely with the RSPB to make sure our work doesn’t affect any wildlife.”

Chris Tyas the RSPB’s Wallasea island Project Manager said “We are very pleased to have UK Power Networks on site replacing and realigning the power cable. These works will allow us to complete the RSPB’s Wallasea Island Wild Coast Project. Completion of the work will see a nature reserve that should support over 50,000 birds along with a range of other wildlife, whilst future proofing it against climate change for decades to come.”

The project is part of a £500million investment that the company makes each year in improving and maintaining its networks. During the eight years to 2023, £4.5billion is to be invested across the company’s distribution area to replace equipment, upgrade the network and secure power supplies.