The electric circus comes to town

Roll up, Roll up, the circus has come to town! This circus is in the form of the national grid electric powerline wire replacement works taking place across a large swathe of the Blackcountry area, including the boundary of Rattlechain lagoon.

Footpath diversions have become a regular feature of life for those who live around the affected areas, especially canal towpaths in the area. Although “essential”  it is still irritating nonetheless. 🙄



Signs at John’s Lane indicate that activity is taking place on powerlines VT26  and VT27. For the number nerds VT26 is located at the foot of the canal towpath at the Rose Lane tunnel end.






One has to assume that when these lines were erected that the lagoon area was avoided altogether and instead bypassed it by crossing the Birmingham canal and railway line towards the direction of Great Bridge and Ocker Hill.

Unfortunately the direction they take and the creation of Sheepwash as a nature reserve site led to many fatal bird strikes across the span of this site. A long campaign by us to identify and prove the problem resulted in National grid erecting bird diverters which are brightly coloured steering wheel sized reflectors that can be seen by the birds when in flight. This has greatly reduced the number hitting the lines in the 10 years that they have been up.


There is an interesting dichotomy when looking back on the two campaigns that define the success of our group since the late 90’s when both the rattlechain site and the powerline incidents were occurring at the same time. Both National Grid and Albright and Wilson/Rhodia wanted “evidence” that they were responsible for causing a problem. Both eventually decided to carry out independent post mortems. But this is where the similarities end.

Whereas proving ground impact injuries associated with overhead collision strikes can be routinely found on gross post mortem, (typically broken ribs puncturing vital organs), the Rhodia rattlechain problem was altogether a different case. Proving chemical poisoning in wildlife is virtually impossible when the will is not there, unless it is the sexy species of birds of prey where all the stops appear to be pulled out for some reason.

Whereas National Grid went out of their way to and admit in writing that their apparatus was to blame for the swan deaths at Sheepwash, Rhodia were altogether less willing to accept anything at all about the white phosphorus in the lagoon sediment that was poisoning birds. And still this continues.

Whereas National Grid could not remove the problem, the powerlines, Rhodia could remove the problem but have chosen not to, the harmful sediment.

But whether it is chemicals in the water or powerlines in the air, the amount of suffering caused by putting them there have certainly been recorded by us over the years.

Some pictures of the powerline works in the area are below.




High wire act



VT 26 from rattlechain lagoon

VT26 from rattlechain lagoon


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