|Reconciling bird conservation and electricity infrastructure development in Hungary The first bird casualties on medium-voltage electric infrastructure were reported in Hungary in 1980. Due to the gradually increasing birds of prey and White stork conservation activities, prevention and mitigation measures to reduce bird electrocution on electric poles and collision with overhead wires started in the late 1980s.
There is not a specific legal instrument in place that obliges electric utility companies to modify the complete Hungarian electricity grid in a bird-safe way within a defined timeframe. However, The Hungarian Nature Conservation Act was amended in 2009 and a new paragraph obliges electricity companies to apply bird friendly solutions on new medium-voltage power lines and during the reconstruction of complete power line sections.
With the lead of the Ministry of Environment and Water, all of the three electric utility companies, the Hungarian Transmission System Operator Company, private business companies (designers and suppliers) and MME/BirdLife Hungary signed the ‘Accessible Sky’ agreement in 2008.
Within this framework actions have been taken including an MME assessment of the potential impact of the Hungarian medium-voltage electricity grid on most-affected bird populations, co-operation in defining the technical standards of recommended bird-friendly poles, regional and local co-operation between state and civil nature conservation bodies and players in the electricity sector in planning and implementation of power line modifications.
The main funding sources of prevention and mitigation measures are the EU’s LIFE+ fund and the European Regional and Development Fund (ERDF).
Electric utility companies also contribute to the costs of retrofitting with around a total of 1 million Euros annually. Companies agreed on financing 25% of the total cost of the measures if the balance (75%) is made available from other financial sources.
Non-legally binding agreements can significantly increase the co-operation between key stakeholders in minimizing bird mortality on electricity infrastructure. However, since electric utility companies are not obliged to cover the total cost of prevention and mitigation measures access to significant additional financial sources must be ensured.
Booklet on reducing powerline impacts on birds (in Hungarian only)
MME (BirdLife partner in Hungary)
Andras Kovacs, andras.kovacs.ecol(at)gmail.com
Marton Horvath, horvath.marton(at)mme.hu