In Barcelona, the electricity company Endesa and six of its senior executives are the target of legal proceedings. As many as 33,000 birds of prey die from electrocution each year. And poorly insulated pylons are at the origin of this massacre.
A violation of the protection of wildlife
In Spain, Barcelona’s Attorney General for the Environment Antoni Pelegrín has carried out a three-year investigation. As explained The Guardian in an article from April 16, 2021, he made the decision to take legal action for environmental crimes against the utility company Endesa and six of its senior executives. The Iberian Peninsula as well as the Strait of Gibraltar represent one of the main migration routes avian of the world. Every year, millions of birds cross the Pyrenees. However, according to Antoni Pelegrín, the company failed to meet safety requirements and violated regulations relating to the protection of wildlife.
Small birds are not really affected, unlike larger species. By spreading their wings, these birds can be electrocuted by touching a poorly insulated pylon. The Spanish Ornithological Society (SEO) deplores the death of about 33,000 birds of prey each year on the million cables present in the country. Incidentally, electrocution is the leading cause of death in endangered species such as the golden eagle and Bonelli’s eagle. SEO also believes in about five million the number of birds of all species losing their lives after hitting cables.
Endesa’s efforts are insufficient
The problem itself has been well known since the 1980s, as have the measures to be taken. On the other hand, the installations of new non-compliant lines continue to this day. In 2013, the company Endesa had nevertheless presented a plan to the government of Catalonia. The aim was to bring the lines back into compliance with the regulations. Nevertheless, the complainants have found only a few insufficient adjustments in recent years.
If Endesa has not yet responded to Antoni Pelegrín’s accusations, it has already stated that it wants to invest 4.6 million euros for the protection of birds in 2021. The company also recalled having financed in 2020 the securing of 659 faulty pylons, in the amount of 2.2 million euros.
Electricity pylons aren’t the only installations of the kind that eagles and other birds have to contend with. Wind turbines and their blades are also a danger. A few months ago, researchers tested a system capable of spotting protected species up to a kilometer away. This allowed a 62% reduction in collisions among eagles. If there is no such thing as zero risk, this kind of innovation is nonetheless positive.