Nesting hawks halt WA transmission tower project

The hawk chicks in their nest. Image: supplied.
The hawk chicks in their nest. Image: supplied.

Two sets of hawks nesting in old transmission towers destined to be toppled have halted the project, but Western Power said they were happy to wait.

The company said not only were they glad to wait for the offspring of hawks to leave their Mid West nests, but that they planned the project with the nesting birds in mind.

The hawks, two of whom were affectionately dubbed Sam (Mitchell) and Jordan (Lewis) after AFL Hawthorn players, were spotted during a project to remove 146 towers no longer needed after the successful completion of the $406 million Mid West Energy Project (MWEP).

Western Power safety and environment manager Claire Royston said all environmental factors were taken in to account whenever towers are built or toppled, and the length of this project meant allowances for potential nesting birds were made.

“The parents certainly made it known that they had young in the area by swooping and screeching at crews, so we set in place environmental procedures to minimises disturbance so the chicks would fledge naturally” Ms Royston said.

“If we were to interfere by moving the nests, there’s a possibility of inducing stress or other problems that could result in the abandonment or death of the chicks, so we elected to avoid that possibility entirely.”

Ms Royston said wildlife wasn’t the only factor considered when Western Power began scoping the decommissioning of the towers, as the line ran through important farming land in the region.

“We worked pretty intensively with farmers so that when we brought down the towers there would be minimal impact to their land or canola crops,” she said.

The remaining five towers that were left as part of the nesting area will be removed shortly to complete the project on budget and on schedule.

The MWEP project, which significantly expanded the capacity and potential of the region, included the erection of 388 new lattice transmission stations, upgrades to a number of substations and more than 2900 kilometres of powerline.

Western Power said with the average height of the new towers being almost 60 metres, they would be more than adequate to accommodate any other hawks looking for a home in the West.