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Greening Pylons: an Electrifying Approach to Biodiversity

Proposal to create niches for animal and plant species on electrical pylons.

Greening Pylons: an Electrifying Approach to Biodiversity

Proposal originally submitted to the Institute of Social Inventions in 1999


The New Scientist recently published an article noting the major contribution to biodiversity conservation in the UK of small ponds -- as a much disparaged niche.

On the other hand, environmentalists have much regretted the destruction of landscapes by electricity pylons. This is a lost battle bar a few expensive exceptions -- as with the loss of hedgerows.

Has anyone explored the possibility of using the many pylons to create habitats for a range of species? The trick would be to suspend suitable containers in which appropriate plants might grow to encourage certain insects and nesting birds. The challenge would be to design around the real and spurious constraints imposed by electricity authorities.

Are there legitimate reasons why not a single species should be allowed to climb or dwell on such structures? In the case of the ubiquitous vertical concrete walls of urban environments, plants can even serve to inhibit graffiti. The species on pylons might even be of interest to the farms which they traverse as habitats for pollinating insects. They might protected habitats for birds.

Are there unexplored windows of opportunity for niche creation in modern constructions -- as is the case with wrecks on the seabed? Have electricity authorities run tests to determine what these might be in the case of pylons? Greening pylons might significantly improve the environmental image of the electricity authorities as well as beautifying the landscape.

Nests on pylons
(Terna Rete Elettrica Nazionale, 2006)
Electricity lines offer a possibility for positively contributing to biodiversity. Thanks to the collaboration of the Ornis Italica association, during the past few years over 350 bird houses suitable for the nest of birds of prey have been placed on Terna"™s lines that from the very beginning attracted different types of birds.


Pylon competition seeks alternative to 'industrial soldiers'
Robert Booth, The Guardian, 23 May 2011

UK National Grid hopes opposition to new electricity pylons can be headed off with 'more visually acceptable' design

The National Grid and the energy and climate change secretary, Chris Huhne, are calling for ideas for pylons to carry electricity from a new generation of nuclear power stations and windfarms across hundreds of miles of British countryside.

Sir Reginald Blomfield's resolutely practical 1927 lattice-tower design is said to be unsuitable to carry higher loads from the new power stations and the government and the National Grid are also hoping a sleeker, more elegant design could head off public anger at new pylons and high-voltage cables planned to serve a 10-fold growth in electricity from wind power and up to 10 new nuclear plants.

The competition, run by the the Royal Institute of the British Architects on behalf the National Grid and the Department of Energy and Climate Change, was launched in London on 23 May. The competition will close on 12 July. (Pylon competition launched, Utility Week, 23 May 2011)


Southeast European Saker Falcon Network
Southeast European Saker Falcon Network Southeast European Saker Falcon Network