Spanish energy company sued for electrocution of birds

Each year, thousands of birds die from electrocution on electricity pylons and overhead cables. In Spain, Barcelona’s environmental attorney general, Antoni Pelegrín, has decided to sue the electricity company Endesa and six of its senior executives for environmental crimes. After instigating a three-year investigation, he claims the company breached safety requirements, breaking regulations designed to protect wildlife.

While the problem is global, it is particularly serious in Spain, which, together with the Iberian Peninsula and the Strait of Gibraltar, is one of the main avian migration routes. Every year, millions of birds cross the Pyrenees.

Threatened species

Small birds are at little risk, but larger species can be shocked by touching a poorly insulated pylon while spreading their wings. According to the Spanish Society of Ornithology (SEO), around 33,000 birds of prey perish in this way each year, on the million kilometers of electric cables deployed in the territory. Electrocution is also the leading cause of death for golden eagles and Bonelli, which are classified as endangered species.

According to Nicólas López, SEO’s species conservation officer, who participated in the investigation into the Endesa case, the thousands of birds killed by electrocution are added «about five million birds who die by colliding with the cables ”.

“We have known the problem and the measures to be taken to avoid electrocutions since the 1980s, but we continue to install new lines which do not comply with the regulations”, he specifies.

A trial to move the lines

In 2013, Endesa presented the Catalan government with a plan to bring its lines back into line, but according to the plaintiffs, five years later, only a few piecemeal adjustments had been made. Having not yet responded to the accusations to which it is today the subject, the company affirms however that it will invest this year 4.6 million euros for the protection of the birds, after having disbursed 2.2 million d euros in 2020 to secure 659 faulty pylons.

In 2018, a court in Castile-La Mancha, in central Spain, had already fined an electricity company € 149,920 for causing the death of an Iberian eagle, an endangered species. With the trial that opens and specifically targets certain executives, the actors involved in the protection of birds are finally hoping to move the lines.

Source: by

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