Red Eléctrica de España (REE) has won the prestigious European Business Awards for the Environment 2014 in the special category ‘Business and Biodiversity’, for its project ‘Birds and power lines: Mapping of bird flight paths’. The European Environment Awards, organised by the Directorate-General for the Environment of the European Commission, are awarded to companies that successfully combine innovation, competitiveness and outstanding environmental performance.
The General Manager of Transmission Division of REE, Carlos Collantes, received the award from the EU Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Commissioner, Karmenu Vella, at a ceremony held today during the 17th European Forum on Eco-innovation in Lyon, France.
The winning project ‘Birds and power lines: Mapping of bird flight paths’ develops a tool based on the use of geographic information systems (GIS) that integrates data from bird flight paths (areas of presence and routes) to prevent impacts on birdlife during the planning and execution phases of new power lines, and enables the prioritisation of mitigation actions for existing lines.
The project is carried out, with a nation-wide scope, in order to integrate information from varying and heterogeneous sources concerning flight paths of birds likely to be affected by overhead power lines, with the main goal of minimizing the impact that the transmission grid may have on birdlife. Mapping techniques based on GIS are applied to draw up sensitivity maps, obtaining an innovative product that allows the infrastructure planning process to be addressed with the most relevant and updated information available on birds, and identifies areas with higher risk of collision providing useful information to prioritize mitigation actions regarding power line infrastructure.
This project is proposed in the context of the study and search for solutions to the problems arising from the interactions between birds and overhead power transmission lines. The project facilitates the decision-making process during the planning and development stages of electricity infrastructure projects in the territory, and contributes to the management of the existing power grid by introducing the protection of birdlife factor in all phases. It favours transparency in the processes of public information and stakeholders’ consultation as it offers a common benchmark framework that is shared with the public administrations and environmental organisations. It has a positive effect on the state of conservation of endangered bird species and their habitat, minimizing the impacts on the natural capital of the territories in which overhead transmission lines are located.
The breadth of data and the flexibility in their management turn this geographic information system into a common benchmark framework tool that can also be used by the various government administrations responsible for the environmental assessment of electrical infrastructure projects,
The project today awarded began in 2010 and has enjoyed the cooperation of the regional ministries with competence in the conservation of biodiversity of the 17 Spanish autonomous communities, as well as other research organizations and environmental organizations and, in particular, of the company Asistencias Técnicas CLAVE, S.L. and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC).
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