Red Eléctrica de España has received recognition at the European Business Awards for the Environment 2014 in the special category Business and Biodiversity, held by the Directorate-General for the Environment of the European Commission, for its project "Birds and power lines: mapping of bird flight paths”.
The Chairman of the Company, José Folgado, this morning received this award from the Prince of Asturias, in an event organised by the Biodiversity Foundation, the entity responsible for managing the Spanish section of these awards that recognise those companies that stand out for their environmental behaviour.
During the ceremony, held on World Environment Day, the Chairman of Red Eléctrica, José Folgado, highlighted that the Company has spent nearly 30 years working on research regarding the integration of the electricity transmission grid into the environment, with the conservation of biodiversity being a fundamental principle in its environmental policy and business strategy.
Red Eléctrica, who was amongst the 99 companies that presented candidacies to this edition, receives this award for the development of a tool based on the use of geographic information systems (GIS) that integrates data from bird flight paths (areas where birds are present and their routes) to prevent impacts on birdlife during the planning and construction stages for new power lines, and to prioritise mitigating actions for existing lines.
A pioneering nationwide initiative was carried out to integrate information from diverse and heterogeneous sources regarding flight paths of birds that were likely to be affected by power lines, with the main objective to minimise the impact of the transmission grid on birdlife. Techniques are used to draw up sensitivity maps based on GIS technology, obtaining an innovative product that allows the infrastructure planning process to be carried out with the most up-to-date and relevant information on birdlife, and identify areas with higher collision risk by providing useful information to allow mitigating actions regarding power lines to be prioritised.
The project that today received the award was started in 2010 and included in the first phase the autonomous communities of Extremadura and Andalusia, later expanding to Castille and Leon, Murcia, Madrid, Valencia and the Canary Islands. Currently the project is still under underway with the aim of mapping the whole of the Spanish territory.
This project is presented in the context of the study and search for solutions to the problems of the interactions between birds and power transmission lines. It facilitates the decision making process in the planning and implementation of electricity infrastructure projects in Spain and in the management of the existing grid by introducing the consideration of birdlife protection in all stages. It promotes transparency in the processes of public consultation and making information available to society, by providing a common framework that is shared with governments and environmental organisations. It impacts positively on the conservation of endangered bird species and their habitats, minimising impacts on the natural capital of the territories where power lines are present.
The extensiveness of the data and the flexibility of its management convert this geographic information system into a common framework of reference to be used also by the various government administrations responsible for the environmental assessment of electricity infrastructure projects.
The European Business Awards for the Environment, awarded today, have been held since 1987. In Spain, these awards have been held since 1997 and for the winners they represent an important recognition by both society and the world of business and sustainability.
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