13 April, 2011, Budapest, Hungary

The aim of the Budapest Conference is to advance dialogue and reach agreement between key stakeholders on the need to address the problem of large-scale bird mortality on power lines at the European level.

Mortality on power lines, especially due to electrocution, has been confirmed as one of the main threats for bird species such as Spanish and Eastern Imperial Eagles and others listed in the Birds Directive and the global Red List. Electrocutions can also disrupt electricity supplies, causing economic disruption and requiring costly ‘retrofit’ investments to make power lines safe.

Fortunately, however, the problem can be almost completely eliminated from the outset through well-proven mitigation measures, bringing benefits for birds, grid operators and electricity consumers alike. Large scale ‘bird-safety’ measures and specific local actions are priority conservation actions in many EU bird Species Action Plans. Many grid operators and regulators have also realized the benefits of eliminating electrocution risks, often working with bird conservation organisations to ensure win-win solutions are found.

Nevertheless, awareness of the problem and its solutions is far from universal, and urgently needs to be increased. There will be massive investment in power lines this decade under the European Commission’s “Energy Infrastructure Package”. Action is needed now to prevent power lines becoming an even greater obstacle to improving the conservation status of threatened bird species.

In the absence of coordinated leadership it will be much more costly, and potentially impossible, to reconcile the EU’s climate and energy targets with its commitment to halting the loss of biodiversity by 2020.

BIOM members Ivan Budinski and Krešimir Mikulić participated at the conference.