Directives and Legislation

Keeping Birds Safe from the Hazards of Electricity

The Bern Convention

"is a binding international legal instrument in the field of nature conservation,
covering most of the natural heritage of the European continent and extending to some States of Africa."

Excert from:
The Bern Convention, Strasbourg, 15 September 2003 T-PVS/Inf (2003) 15
'Protecting Birds from Powerlines :a practical guide on the risks to birds from electricity transmission facilities and how to minimise any such adverse effects';
Report written by BirdLife International on behalf of the Bern Convention:-

"6. Recommendations and guidelines
6.1. Experience from conservationists’ work

Utility companies prefer low-cost constructions, where possible, and often counter conservationists’ arguments with pseudo-economic reasoning. In some countries, like Hungary, the situation is almost absurd: „Killer poles“ are the only government approved technical standard and must be used. Highly dangerous constructions are still frequent in high voltage powerlines, obstructing the air space and thus bird migration routes with multiple levels of cables. Voluntary agreements between electric utility companies and conservationists are rare. Where good co-operation has been achieved, the results have so far been at local or, at most, regional level, eg the replacement of some extremely dangerous „killer poles“. Overall, the effect of such efforts has been negligible, in particular where „killer poles“ remain in place and continue to be constructed. The responsibility of the electric utility companies to observe bird safety is in the public interest and is also a matter of ethics. However, satisfactory implementation of state-of-the-art of bird safety provisions depends on clear and unambiguous legislative action. The experience of several countries is that the „killer poles“ started to disappear or to be retro- fitted on a large scale only after legislative action. In Germany, the construction of new „killer poles“ became generally prohibited, and all existing power poles must be made safe by 2011. A catalogue of suitable designs and solutions was set up by the electric utility companies, in close co-operation with government and conservation groups.

6.2. Technical Standards 6.2.1 Standards to protect birds from electrocution Technical standards are recognised and binding design guidelines exist for the construction of powerlines. These technical standards should contain a special Bird Protection Clause with the general requirement that the objectives of bird protection must be respected, and which prohibits the use of any type of „killer poles“. In Germany the introduction of a Bird Protection Clause was an important requisite to ultimately removing „killer poles“. The wording of the Bird Protection Clause in the German Industry Norm (DIN VDE 0210/12.85) is the following: „Crossarms, insulators and other parts of powerlines shall be constructed so that birds find no opportunity to perch near energized powerlines that might be hazardous“ (DIN VDE 0210, 1985, section 8.10 Bird Protection). The technical measures (regionally) taken in accordance with these technical standards since 1985 have already had significant effects: the populations of endangered species of large birds, such as White Stork, Black Stork, White-tailed Eagle, Osprey, Red Kite and Eagle Owls have started to recover or have at least stabilised. Further positive effects are expected now from the new German legislation act."

Birdlife International
'Position Statement on Birds and Power Lines'

On the risks to birds from electricity transmission facilities and how to minimise any such adverse effects adopted by the BirdLife Birds and Habitats Directive Task Force on 10 May 2007.
This BirdLife Position Statement includes references to relevant legislative instruments of the EU, but it could be applied in all countries that are signatories to the Bern Convention and the Bonn Convention too, as the underlying principles are just as relevant. Therefore, BirdLife Partners in the respective countries are invited to adopt this position.

'Caution Electrocution'

This brochure has been published with in the project “Studies on issues related to large birds and electrocution in Central and Eastern Europe with suggested practices for effective solutions”, funded by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.

Conservation status of birds of prey and owls in Norway