NABU Lower Saxony: two round tables on the impacts of power lines on nature conservation

For its pilot project SuedLink, TenneT is cooperating very closely with the regional branch of NABU (German BirdLife) in Lower Saxony. As part of this cooperation, NABU organised two round table discussions with authorities, municipalities, planning bureaus, nature conservation organisations, academia and citizen action groups. The meetings focused on routing options in upland areas and how negative impacts of new power lines can be minimized or avoided or even how positive impacts for nature conservation can be achieved.

Discussion questions included: 

  • Which routing conflicts can be minimised by the early consideration of issues surrounding nature and species conservation?
  • Do new ways of planning offer opportunities regarding the build-up of a biotop network?
  • What kind of subsequent land use is possible in forest areas to improve ecological structures beneath power lines?
  • Which criteria do apply for Natura2000 areas?

While the first round table served the purpose of exchanging expertise regarding power line routing, the second aimed at identifying concrete solutions. Participants of both events agreed on several points, e.g.:

  • Planning through forest areas is particularly sensitive and should be avoided in cases where the forest is part of the Natura2000 network
  • Negative impact is not as bad if the line would go through forest that is not as ecologically valuable, e.g. spruce forests
  • Land use of cleared areas is desirable
  • Underground lines in low mountain range areas are almost impossible due to geological circumstances
  • The impact of underground cables is often higher than expected
  • Forests, birds and wetlands constitute the most sensitive areas for power line planning
  • It is not enough to concentrate on existing protected areas
  • Determination of sustainable line corridor management would be desirable