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Wildlife Protection

Network operators
  • Western Power Distribution
  • Electricity North West Limited
  • Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution
  • Southern Electric Power Distribution
  • Eastern Power Networks
  • South Eastern Power Distribution
  • SPEN Distribution
  • SPEN Manweb
Funding mechanismNetwork Innovation Allowance (NIA)
DurationSep 2019 - Jan 2022
Estimated expenditure£326k
Research areaSafety, Health and Environment
  • South West
  • South Wales
  • West Midlands
  • East Midlands
  • August 2021

    Stage 4 – Risk Assessment Software Application. Project stakeholders have now had the opportunity to feedback their observations regarding the initial softwa…


  1. Understand how wildlife behaves and interacts with overhead lines so as to determine those environments where lines, structures, equipment and configurations are most susceptible to inadvertent wildlife contact.
  2. Design, develop and produce a set of detailed mitigation measures to mitigate the risk of wildlife interaction with Electricity Overhead Networks.
  3. Identify where materials, plant and equipment could be redesigned or modified cost effectively to make them less susceptible to contact flashover.
  4. Develop a Risk Assessment Software App to assist in identifying the current risk and the resultant risk once specified mitigation measures have been put in place.
  5. Provision of guidance documents on carrying out a Risk Assessment, specification and purchase of appropriate mitigation measures, methods of application of those mitigation measures and subsequent maintenance requirements.


Contact between overhead (OH) lines and wildlife causes considerable disruption to electricity supplies, damage to plant and apparatus resulting in costly repairs as well as causing death or injury to the wildlife making contact.

From figures obtained from the National Fault and Interruptions Reporting Scheme (NAFIRS) and WPD systems it is estimated (pro rata) that it is costing the UK distribution and transmission companies in excess of £10M per annum in terms of the Customer Minutes Lost (CMLs) and Customer Interruptions (CIs) and to carry out repairs. These contacts also cause thousands of wildlife deaths through electrocution or collision.

Whilst member companies do carry out work (£Ms per annum) to improve their overhead networks’ resilience to wildlife contact, this is normally reactive work after several incidents have occurred and / or as a result of customer complaints. As a result, this work will be carried out on the localised affected sections only and may not be the most cost effective and appropriate method to provide the greatest return for the capital spent.

There is a further potential risk to 3rd parties who may be tempted to access structures in an attempt to remove birds which have become entangled in the OH wires and apparatus.


This project will be carried out using a staged approach to bring together the learning from research, design and development phases. This will enable the production of a Software Risk Assessment tool and suitable mitigation methods and allow a trial exercise to be undertaken on a typical 11kV OH network. The learning from all stages will then be used to produce an overarching guidance document.

Stage 1 - Research

  • Susceptibility of line design, apparatus and equipment layout and materials used suited to the environment they are situated in.
  • Likely wildlife contact, its type and the likely impact on equipment and the wildlife. This part of the research will need to ascertain the migration patterns covering bird species most likely to cause damage across the whole of the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Work regarding wildlife collisions has already taken place within the industry. Where possible, this work will be built upon. Two notable sources are:

  • ENW Collision Risk Assessment Toolkit and
  • Bird and Power Lines work produced by Endesa (Spanish Energy Company)

The research will also build upon existing work through collaboration or consultation with academic institutions and stakeholders including preservation societies and international bodies such as

  • International Centre for Birds of Prey
  • The British Bird of Prey Centre
  • The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust
  • Royal society for the protection of birds,
  • Avian Power Line Interaction Committee- USA.

Stage 2 – Design and Development of Mitigation Methods

The design and development of mitigation measures will need to be relative to the outputs of stage 1 and require collaboration / consultation with associated manufacturers to identify and produce a suite of suitable UK and Ireland specific methods of mitigation. The Design & Development of the mitigation measures will need to consider the following, in order to ensure:

  • The risk of contact is reduced to acceptable level
  • The cost of the mitigation is kept to a minimum
  • The method and ease of use should be ‘network friendly’(i.e. applied live as switching the network out leads to other complications), as well as costs effective
  • The robustness of the mitigation measure is sufficient to deal with expected service life
  • The type testing requirements can achieve the above robustness
  • The effects of the mitigation measures once installed to the equipment will be applied
  • Expected lifespan and maintenance requirements

Stage 3 - Build and Type Testing of Mitigation Methods

The build and testing of the suite of mitigation measures identified in Stage 2 will require collaboration / consultation with an appropriate manufacturer to produce suitable UK and Ireland specific methods of mitigation; this build and testing stage will need to:

  • Identify optimum design for each mitigation measure from Stage 2
  • Build mitigation measures
  • Define specific physical testing regimes to ensure ease of application), prove electrical, mechanical, weather and thermal withstand capabilities of the proposed solutions.
  • Test device(s)

Stage 4 – Design, Develop and Produce Risk Assessment App

This stage will require the engagement with a suitable software developer who can take the outputs of stages 1 & 2 and design and produce a logically sequenced software Risk Assessment (RA) App.

The App should:

  1. Ask the user a series of questions that allows for variable inputs identified in stage 1 e.g. line design, structure type, plant type & its mounting position on the structure, jumper configuration and the environment in which the structure is sited etc.
  2. Assist the user, utilising the outputs of 1. above in conjunction with an interactive map, to identify the likely wildlife that will be present in the environment in which the structure is sited, identify the type of risk and calculate the likelihood that such risk will be realised.
  3. Suggest, based on the mitigation measures identified in stage 2, the most appropriate mitigation method that can be applied for the identified risk.
  4. Be designed so that:
    • a. Users are enabled to upload results obtained which will allow for collaborative learning;
    • b. App developers can analyse oncoming data, measure performance and issue an annual report on any finding, and where necessary recommend and carry out regular updates to the App.

Stage 5 – Real World Trial of Risk Assessment Software App and Mitigations Measures on 11kV OH Network

A real-life trial of the Software Risk Assessment Software App and the application of the mitigation measures on an existing 11kV overhead line. This stage will:

  1. Identify a suitable location and structures that have suffered network issues relating to wildlife contact in the previous 12 months
  2. Use the Risk Assessment Software App to identify the type and likelihood of the risk that further contact will be realised
  3. Purchase and install the identified mitigation measures to the OH line
  4. Monitor performance of the applied mitigation measures over a minimum period of 12 months to cover all seasonal variations.
  5. Consider the success of the App and the application of mitigation measures after the trial period.

During this stage the trial should identify any shortfalls in the Risk Assessment Software App and mitigation measures in terms of their use and feed back into the final designs. The trial should also be used in the development of guides for the use of Risk Assessment Software App and the installation of the mitigation measures.

Stage 6 - Reporting on Outputs

The project will culminate with the production of a functional report that will provide;

  1. An assessment of the outputs and learning points identified throughout the project
  2. The benefits and drawbacks of the Risk Assessment Software App, mitigation measures i.e. their use, application and maintenance requirements and any risks that may be posed through their application
  3. Guidance documents for future use including operational and strategic guidance on carrying out a Risk Assessment, specification and purchase of appropriate mitigation measures, methods of application of those mitigation measures and subsequent maintenance requirements.