Tractors hitting overhead lines causing increased power outages

The tractor in the photo had been set to auto steer when it crashed into the pylon.
The tractor in the photo had been set to auto steer when it crashed into the pylon.
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Farmers using GPS 'auto-steer' tractors are becoming increasingly responsible for power outages amid a rise in collisions with pylons and overhead lines, according to reports in the UK.

And ESB Networks says it has experienced similar issues in relation to both high loads and tall machinery. In some cases, overhead lines have been pulled down/damaged (for example, bales of hay on trailers) as well as poles being struck and broken by machinery. 

In the UK, concerns have been raised that satellite navigation systems that help guide tractors and combine harvesters around fields are failing to spot overhead power cables and pylons, leading to crashes.

In the latest accident, a Nottinghamshire farmer escaped serious injury after his tractor crashed into a pylon while using auto-steer. The incident left 1,300 homes without power.

ESB Networks have recorded a significant volume of similar third-party damage incidents.

In some cases, this has resulted in the person involved receiving serious electric shocks and burns.

To highlight the dangers associated with coming into contact with overhead electricity lines and poles while operating farm and other machinery, ESB Networks invest heavily in high profile media campaigns focused on our key safety messages.

For ESB Networks, our 10/20kv lines have a minimum clearance over fields of 6.5 metres.

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ESB is encouraging landowners/farmers to contact them if they have a concern in terms of heights of lines or location of poles/stays such as when they remove ditches/change the layout of fields etc. Above all else, it is constantly remind the public to ring our 24/7 Emergency number (1850 372 999).

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