Environment workshop

Renewable energy technologies are now established and appreciated as a key means of producing electricity in a climate and environmentally friendly way. However, to transport the electricity from these new generation sites to the users, additional power lines are needed. These new lines can raise serious concerns regarding their impact on the environment, including biodiversity, ecosystems and the landscape.

The European Commission is currently working on a new legislation on permit granting procedures, to be released this fall, to ensure that the energy infrastructure needed for implementing the EU climate and energy targets will be built in time. For improving and shortening the current procedures, the way environmental impact assessments (EIA) will be carried out will be crucial. Environmental impacts of grid expansion are a legitimate concern and need to be fully understood and addressed.

For these reasons, on the 16th of June 2011, RGI organised its third workshop at the Strathclyde University of Glasgow to better understand environmental impacts of grids and to identify steps needed to enable the necessary grid expansion while safeguarding biodiversity, the environment, and citizens’ quality of life. State of the art strategic planning and environmental assessment were discussed, and innovative solutions for environmental enhancement explored.

National Grid and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) hosted the workshop.

A RGI Dinner provided an exclusive opportunity for informal talks and networking with other participants after the workshop. As a special feature, a visit of the Whitelee Windfarm, Europe’s largest wind farm, was offered on the following day.


08:30 Registration and Coffee

09:15 Welcome & Setting the Scottish Energy Scene
Prof. Stephen McArthur | Director Institute of Energy and Environment, Strathclyde University

PART I Context

09:30 Why TSOs need to take the environment seriously and RGI's role
Antonella Battaglini | Executive Director, RGI | Presentation

09:45 The need for renewables and new grid infrastructure from an environmental perspective
Dr Stephan Singer | Director Global Energy Policy, WWF (video statement)

09:50 Impacts of power lines on bird populations in Europe
Markus Nipkow | Officer for Ornithology and Bird Protection, NABU | Presentation

10:05 Environmental and public acceptability benefits of an integrated European grid infrastructure
Nicole-Nabi Siefken | Policy Officer, DG Energy European Commission (video statement)

10:10 The North Sea Offshore Grid in terms of environmental and public acceptability
Louise Wilks | Business Strategy Manager for Future Networks, National Grid | Presentation

10:25 Practical experience: Building a power line from Beauly to Denny
Colin Imrie | Head of Energy and International Low Carbon Division, Scottish Government

10:40 Coffee break

PART II Working Groups 1 – Understanding environmental impacts of grids: What do we know?

11:10 Introduction: Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) answer what kind of questions?

11:20 Break out into two groups to discuss:
1. Impacts on species, habitats and ecosystems, their minimisation and opportunities for environmental enhancement
Chair: Guido Axmann | RGI / Thema1
Impulse: Aedán Smith | Head of Planning and Development, RSPB | Presentation

2. Non-biodiversity impacts and their minimisation (e.g. transmission losses, landscape etc.) and innovative solutions and opportunities for environmental enhancement
Chair: Antonella Battaglini | ED, RGI
Impulse: Jhon van Veelen | Architect, Landschap in Verandering | Presentation

12:20 Reports from break out groups to plenary & discussion

13:00 Lunch break

PART III Working Groups 2 – How to speed up grid development without sacrificing environmental achievements?

13:45 Break out into two groups to discuss:
1. Developing environmental guidelines for grid planning: common knowledge, key elements, collaborative authorship
Chair: Antonella Battaglini | ED, RGI
Impulse: Ivan Scrase | Senior Climate Change Officer, RSPB | Presentation

2. Permitting legislation while keeping robust Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA): strategic alliances, political agenda, stakeholder engagement
Chair: Tor Inge Akselsen, Director of Communications, Statnett
Impulse: Daniel Fürstenwerth | RGI | Presentation

14:50 Reports from break out groups to plenary & discussion

15:30 Coffee break

PART VI Panel Discussion – How to maximise environmental benefits of grid development?

16:00 Followed by a discussion & development of action points for RGI and its members
Chair: Susan Deacon | Chairperson Scottish Power Renewables

17:30 Closing remarks & Get together
Antonella Battaglini | Executive Director, RGI

19:00 RGI Dinner 


Friday 17 June 2011

09:00 Visit to Whitelee Windfarm, ends at 14:30 in Glasgow


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Theresa Schneider
Senior Manager–Communication

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RGI gratefully acknowledges the EU LIFE funding support:

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Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the LIFE Programme. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.