Third International Scientific and Practical Conference “Eagles of the Palearctic: Study and Conservation”

Raptors Conservation. Suppl. 2. Proceedings of Conferences

Proposals for Legislative Solutions to the Problems of Bird Deaths on Overhead Power Lines in Kazakhstan

Ongarbaev N.Kh. (Biodiversity Research and Conservation Center Community Trust, Astana, Kazakhstan)

Ongarbayev Nurlan Email:
Recommended citation: Ongarbaev N.Kh. Proposals for Legislative Solutions to the Problems of Bird Deaths on Overhead Power Lines in Kazakhstan. – Raptors Conservation. – Raptors Conservation. 2023. S2: 395–399. DOI: 10.19074/1814-8654-2023-2-395-399 URL:

The problems of bird deaths on overhead power lines (PLs) have been studied by experts for many years and have now been examined enough to make basic conclusions about the causes of their deaths and possible ways of solving this problem. It is no secret that PLs that are dangerous to birds cause the greatest damage to migrating and/or nomadic birds. Thus, the states that have not solved the issues of mass deaths of birds on OPLs in their countries, in fact, violate the provisions of the international convention on the conservation of migratory species of wild animals (Bonn Convention or CMS), if they have acceded to this convention.

The Republic of Kazakhstan acceded to the Bonn Convention in accordance with the Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan dated December 13, 2005 N 96, and as a state of a range of a number of migratory species has committed to make efforts for their conservation. In addition, the new Environmental Code, which entered into force in 2021, at the initiative of certain environmental organizations, contains Article No. 246 "Environmental Requirements for the Construction and Operation of Electricity Networks," which specifies the requirements that "When locating, designing, constructing, operating, repairing, reconstructing and modernizing electric grids, measures shall be developed and implemented to ensure the prevention of death of birds and other wild animals, preservation of habitat, breeding conditions, migration routes and places of concentration", and that "entities operating electric grids shall be obliged to carry out regular inspections of electric grids to identify their negative impact on birds and other wild animals and, if necessary, take measures to reduce it." Thus, the basic requirements for ensuring the safety of OPLs for birds have already been defined at the Code level.

Moreover, the Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan "On Protection, Reproduction and Use of Animal World" also contains a separate article No. 17 "Measures to preserve the habitat, breeding conditions, migration routes and places of concentration of animals in the design and implementation of economic and other activities", the second paragraph of which states that "When operating, locating, designing and constructing railroads, highways, pipelines and other transportation routes, power and communication lines, canals, dams and other water facilities, measures shall be developed and implemented to ensure the preservation of habitat, breeding conditions, migration routes and places of concentration of animals».

Moreover, even articles in the Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan "On Administrative Offenses" are provided to control compliance with these articles. For example, Article 379 stipulates responsibility for violation of animal protection measures in the placement, design and construction of settlements, enterprises and other facilities, implementation of production processes and operation of vehicles, etc.

Thus, it can be assumed that in Kazakhstan the issue of bird deaths on PLs has a high level of formalization.

Some issues of PLs safety for birds are even reflected in the "Standards of Technological Design of Rural Electric Networks of the Republic of Kazakhstan" (RDS RK 4.04-185-2003).

However, this poses the question – why, with so many documents, birds continue to die, and owners of overhead power lines dangerous for birds are not brought to responsibility?

Obviously, the core of the problem lies in law enforcement practice, which is limited by several important factors:
1) It is not specified which activities should be carried out and how to monitor their implementation;

2) These requirements are not enshrined in the regulatory and technical documentation of power engineers and designers, which makes them "detached" from the working life of power engineers;
3) PLs dangerous for birds have huge lengths (only the length of 6–10 kV PLs is more than 80 thousand kilometers), it is impossible and economically inexpedient to check and inspect them.
In view of the above, the obvious conclusion is that it is not the death of birds on overhead power lines or the failure to implement measures that should be considered a problem, but the very fact of designing, constructing or operating overhead power lines that are dangerous to birds. Based on this point of reference, BRCC has formulated the basic concept of the proposals for legislative solutions to the problems of bird deaths on PLs. The essence of the proposals is as follows:
1) Legislatively define the term "the structure that is dangerous to birds";
2) Introduce a legislative ban on the design and construction of bird-dangerous PL structures (newly constructed PLs). At the same time, it is advisable to consider alternative solutions for PL owners using 6–10 kV networks;
3) Smoothly and gradually introduce a legislative ban on the operation of bird dangerous structures of PLs without bird protection devices (BPDs) of the established sample and quality;
4) Develop and approve national standards for BPDs (insulating, marker and nestforming type), including requirements for their technical characteristics, methods of attachment, frequency of replacement, etc.

Important aspects of the proposed solutions are the following:
1) implementation of the above proposals not only in environmental laws and statutory instruments, but also in regulatory and technical documentation governing the design, construction, operation and maintenance of PLs;
2) involvement of a wide range of stakeholders, including the Ministry of Energy, overhead line owners, associations and various limited liability companies, financial institutions and banks financing overhead line construction/modernization.

An important way to solve the problem is to initially appeal to the Government of Kazakhstan and establish an interdepartmental working group. In case of success, all technical and organizational solutions will be presented to the attention of ornithologists and conservation organizations of Kazakhstan and neighboring countries.