Bull blamed for coastal power cuts

Joseph Bulmer

Animal causes blackout misery for hundreds of Croyde homes

A BULL with an itch caused power blackouts for hundreds of homes in a remote area of the North Devon coast.

Around 500 homes are thought to have suffered mysterious intermittent electricity loss in the seaside villages of Croyde, Saunton and Georgeham last month.

The source of the problem had power company workers scratching their heads for several days until engineers caught the animal “in action” in a Saunton field on Monday week.

A spokesperson for Western Power Distribution said the bull had been rubbing itself against a wire stay designed to support overhead power cables.

“It was quite a hefty animal and had caused some damage,” said spokesperson Irene Evans.

“We think he’d been busy for a while as the engineers said that where he’d been rubbing had become very shiny.”

The bumping bovine is thought to have triggered automatic circuit breakers that caused the regular power cuts. The fault was only located after a four-day search involving a helicopter, electronic pathfinder equipment and a team of engineers on foot.

Once they’d discovered the problem, engineers had to shut down the power manually early on Tuesday morning to make emergency repairs and erect fencing around the pole.

Patrick Farrelly, who lives next door to the field, said: “We get a lot of power cuts in the area and I assumed they were being caused by high winds. I had no idea it was the bull in the field next door.

“I looked out my window and Saunton was pitch black.”

Local parish and district councillor Pat Barker said the villages were not on the mains gas supply and residents relied on their electricity supply more than most.

“Everyone around here is wondering about what happened and most people you speak to will have a moan about the power cuts,” she said.

“It’s quite funny that they were caused by a bull this time but on a serious note, it really does show how dependent we are out here on our electricity supply out here.

“We’re really out on a limb and without power, things can get pretty bad. One night I had to cook dinner on an open fire and another time, I lost a speech I was writing on my computer.

“I think it’s time that power companies started working more closely with other utilities companies and began thinking about putting power cables underground, especially in such a beautiful, yet exposed coastal area.”