LIFE Elia-RTE, Elia, RTE, Ecofirst
LIFE Elia-RTE is a project that combines electrical safety of grid lines with biodiversity-friendly vegetation management by creating green corridors under high-voltage overhead lines and by relying on a multi-partner approach. It was run between 2011-2017, together between the Belgian TSO, Elia, French TSO, RTE, and ecological consultancy, Ecofirst.
The LIFE Elia-RTE team aimed to establish a new kind of vegetation management underneath grid lines in Belgium and France. They restored forest edges and natural habitats, dug natural ponds, planted conservatory orchards, sowed meadows and created pasturage facilities for local framers. This approach not only turned out to be more biodiversity-friendly by avoiding the traditional clear-cut solutions under grid lines, but also proved to be 1.4 to 3.9 times cheaper on a 30 years scale than conventional forms of vegetation management.
The practice, which involved many stakeholders including TSOs, authorities, forest owners, NGOs and academics, has some impressive results to show. Through its efforts the LIFE Elia-RTE team managed to restore 20 ha of natural habitats and improve the biodiversity network by creating connecting zones between core areas of conservation. By relying on local partnerships, they also succeeded in improving acceptance for high-voltage grid lines.