For the construction of the new Uckermark Line in replacement for the old one, a decision has now been reached with regard to the supplementary planning procedure. In its decision, the Brandenburg State Office for Mining, Geology and Raw Materials (Landesamt für Bergbau, Geologie und Rohstoffe, LBGR) grants 50Hertz the building permit for the planned 380-kV overhead power line to be built between the substations of Bertikow and Vierraden in the North-East of Brandenburg and Neuenhagen near Berlin. It will replace the current 220-kV line and will as such be able to transport more wind and solar power from Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania to the South.
The new line, around 115 kilometres long, will be able to transport up to five times more electricity than the current overhead line, which dates from the 1950s. This means that more electricity from wind farms and subordinate grid levels can be collected at the Pasewalk, Bertikow, Vierraden and Neuenhagen substations and safely integrated into the transmission grid.
Prior to this decision, 50Hertz drew up individual assessments for many bird species. This detailed consideration of the potential impacts on bird life had become necessary after the Federal Administrative Court (Bundesverwaltungsgericht, BVerwG) complied with a complaint from NABU’s Brandenburg chapter and demanded amendments to the first decision. These amendments are now included in the present decision on the supplementary planning procedure, including around 70 ancillary conditions as well as deadlines for the implementation of bird protection measures. The route proposed by 50Hertz was not altered by the decision.
In the future the Uckermark Line will bypass the Schorfheide-Chorin biosphere reserve on the eastern side and as such pays much attention to the interests of nature conservation and bird protection. For the bird protection areas Randow-Welse-Buch and Schorfheide-Chorin, which are still affected and cannot be bypassed because of their vast surfaces, the LBGR has granted exemptions. Here, 50Hertz has to implement extensive, so-called ‘coherence measures’ to preserve biodiversity. The dismantling of the old power line plays an important and compensatory role here.
To make sure that birds traversing the line can better discern and therefore fly around it, 50Hertz will apply bird protection markers on sensible line sections. On particular sections, tower types with a lower height of only 30 metres are planned, in comparison to the usual 50 metres. During the construction phase, 50Hertz will also take the breeding seasons of protected bird species into consideration, so that line construction does not interfere with the rearing of the young.
In order to better estimate the dangers to bird life, 50Hertz has already been cooperating with various nature conservation organisations as well as ornithological stations for several years, using systematic research to gain new scientific insights into whether and to what extent birds are affected or put at risk by overhead lines within their habitat. In the scope of a collaboration project as part of the Renewables Grid Initiative (RGI), 50Hertz and other transmissionand distribution system operators established a bird strike platform together with the federal NABU association. This allows people who find birds that have struck a power line to report these. It is the first platform of its kind to cover all of Germany.
Information about the planning and approval procedure and about the Uckermark Line
The planning for a more powerful Uckermark Line date back to 2005. It will connect the substation of Bertikow in the Uckermark region to the substation of Neuenhagen in the northeast of Berlin via an important interconnector to the Polish grid at Vierraden, near Schwedt. Right now, the existing 220-kV line crosses central areas of the Schorfheide-Chorin biosphere reserve. The planned new overhead line, however, will bypass the protected area along its eastern edge in the direction of Schwedt and Angermünde, and rejoins the route of the existing line near Golzow. The line was already part of the first grid studies of the German Energy Agency (dena) and the Trans-European Energy Network Interconnection Programme of 2006/2007, and was included in the Power Grid Expansion Act (EnLAG) in 2009 as a project of national importance. Even today, it is still considered the most important expansion project for the energy transition and climate protection.
The planning approval for the overhead line was granted in July 2014. Until the judgement of the BVerwG on 21 January 2016 regarding the complaint by NABU, one and a half years passed. In November 2017, all application documents were submitted for the supplementary planning procedure, and in May 2018, the formal supplementary planning procedure was initiated. Following a hearing in November 2018, 50Hertz provided further explanations. The need for additional clarification arose during the ongoing procedure because, among other things, a pair of lesser spotted eagles had settled in the study area.