Impacts on biodiversity

Right from the planning stage of development work, Terna takes into consideration the need to preserve the environment and the landscape by seeking solutions agreed on with local institutions for locating electric infrastructure. Like other environmental variables, biodiversity – and in particular the presence of protected areas – therefore constitutes an input to the planning of a sustainable grid. The biodiversity of protected areas where new infrastructure could be located are studied carefully. The information gathered then becomes part of the criteria for determining the route and are available in the Environmental Report.  

This approach was confirmed in the protocol of understanding signed by Terna and the WWF.  

In spite of the measures taken in the planning stage, there may be interferences between single works and a few species or habitats. To reduce such interferences to a minimum, environmental mitigation measures are adopted, during both the construction and the operation of infrastructure. If the mitigation measures are not sufficient to reduce the interferences to insignificant levels, the Company adopts environmental compensation measures, i.e. actions regarding environments near the electric line.

The most important mitigation and compensation measures involve:

  • environmental restoration, which consists in building naturalistic works to regulate the surface outflow of meteoric water and thus control soil erosion;
  • reforesting, through the planting of trees and bushes belonging to the native vegetation of the area;
  • turfing with seeds of native species of grass, together with natural fertiliser adhesives that facilitate rooting. The use of native species avoids the risk of floristic pollution through the introduction of species extraneous to the environment;
  • compensation: cutting down trees along line under construction is balanced by the planting of trees of the same species on an equivalent surface area.

The number of km2 restored by mitigation works is not currently available.

For the species of fauna and flora that may be involved, see the 2009 Environmental Report.

During the construction of infrastructure, the habitats and the animal and flora species concerned are monitored. Specifically, environmental analyses are performed before the infrastructure is constructed and the data thus obtained are compared with those from samplings carried out subsequent to its completion in order to identify promptly any signs of deterioration.

As far as already existing lines are concerned, Terna has tried out mitigation systems regarding in particular the interference between lines and birdlife, which are described in the following paragraphs.  

In 2008, together with the major concessionaires of infrastructure, organisations dedicated to the protection of the landscape and biodiversity, and other institutions, Terna was invited by the ISPRA (Institute for Environmental Protection and Research) to participate in a work group on the integration of line infrastructure with the surrounding area.  

The group wrote a report on “The protection of the ecological connectivity of the environment and line infrastructure”, which was published in March 2009.

Terna participated in the work group with a contribution aimed at promoting:

  • the approach adopted for locating new infrastructure by describing its experience;
  • the measures taken to mitigate the impact of infrastructure constructed. 

In 2009, Terna presented its 2009 LIFE + project – “Urgent ecological conservation activities for integrating the electricity network with the Natura 2000 network“ – to the European Union.

The main objective of the project is the eco-sustainability of the National Transmissioni Grid in the Natura 2000 areas, in particular optimising the management of new high- and very-high-voltage (130-380 kVi) electric lines and defining actions to support biodiversity and environmental monitoring.   

Terna is also examining the possibility of using the lines of the NTG to support environmental monitoring. In effect, the installation of specific sensors on the pylons would allow programmes for collecting environmental data, established together with local governments and the administrative bodies of parks, to be initiated.