Woodpeckers blamed for ten-hour power outage

WOODPECKERS have been blamed for a ten hour power outage, as engineers were forced to replace 20ft-30ft high poles damaged by the birds.
Woodpeckers are said to be the cause of the outage. Picture: HeMediaWoodpeckers are said to be the cause of the outage. Picture: HeMedia
Woodpeckers are said to be the cause of the outage. Picture: HeMedia

The migratory birds are said to have caused “hundreds of thousands of pounds worth” of damage to poles between Oban and Kilmelford, Argyll, requiring urgent replacement of the poles before they collapsed, bringing down the network.

Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution (SSE) say they had to take urgent remedial action to help keep the lights on.

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Engineers say Great Spotted woodpeckers are skilled at drilling away at the poles in a short period of time, leaving them liable to fall over or unstable, leading to a loosening power cables in even the slightest wind.

In a letter to householders, SSE manager Barry MacTaggart told residents a temporary interruption to household electricity supply was needed “to allow us to safely carry out wood pole changes on our overhead line between Oban and Kilmelford which require changing due to woodpecker damage”.

He added: “The safety of our customers and staff is at the heart of what we do and all our work has been planned to ensure people are without power for the shortest period necessary.”

Homes were without power for almost 10 hours on Tuesday.

Electricity companies have tried many solutions over the years to stop the woodpeckers causing damage, including decoys, objects that move, shiny objects, noises and smells but none of them works for very long because the protected birds soon realise they do not pose a threat.

One resident said today: “You can hear the drumming noises from the birds as they hammer away with their chisel-like bills morning, noon and night.

“You rarely see one, but the noise tells you they are there.”