EIA Reserve Matters

September 22, 2008

The amended EIA regulation came into force on the 1st September 2008.

These Regulations amend the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (England and Wales) Regulations 1999 (the 1999 Regulations”) so that they apply to applications for subsequent approval of matters under conditions attached to planning permissions.

In 2006, the House of Lords and the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that the UK had failed to transpose the EIA Directive correctly, because the Regulations implementing the EIA Directive allowed only for EIA before the grant of outline planning permission and not at the later stage when reserved matters were approved.

The ECJ ruled that where development cannot be carried out until details relating to reserved matters are approved by a local planning authority, the decisions to grant outline planning permission and to approve the reserved matters must be considered to constitute, as a whole, a multi-stage development consent for the purposes of the EIA Directive. If it became apparent during the course of the second stage that the project was likely to have significant effects on the environment (for example, where those effects were not identifiable until then) then an environmental impact assessment was required. Since the Regulations then in force did not allow for EIA to be required at that stage, they did not fully implement the EIA Directive.

These Regulations amend the 1999 Regulations to close the loophole identified by the ECJ. As well as applying to applications for approval or reserved matters and other matters under a condition, they also apply to ROMP (review of mineral permissions) applications.

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A-Z Guidelines to Successful Public Private Partnership

November 3, 2006

This seminar is being held by the European Public Private Partnership Centre in Hungary. On the 27th – 29th November 2006, at the Corinthia Aquincum Hotel, Budapest.

I am delighted to have been invited to present on ‘The need for environmental and social risk management for PPP Projects’.

The European Public-Private Partnership Center (EPPPC) was established to serve as a know-how center for public sector bodies, private entrepreneurs, investors and other industry players in the growing international marketplace of PPPs. Their state aim is to fully embrace the idea of PPP and educate the above representatives by offering them comprehensive training services as well as widespread expertise through consulting.

Link to the Training Workshop Brochure


Arguments for both voluntary and mandatory standards for sustainability reporting

October 17, 2006

This new KPMG and UNEP report provides a balanced consideration of voluntary and mandatory approaches to sustainability reporting. A key proposition in the report is that the voluntary versus mandatory debate does not imply an “either / or” position, but rather finding a balance between regulation in certain high risk or high impact areas, and allowing industry associations or individual companies to make decisions in other areas.

Overview and analysis of current trends and approaches in mandatory and voluntary standards for sustainability reporting

UNEP; KPMG Global Sustainability Services / UNEP Division of Technology, Industry and Economics (DTIE) , 2006

This report provides an overview and analysis of current trends and approaches in mandatory and voluntary standards for sustainability reporting. It summarises arguments in favour of both voluntary and mandatory approaches, and suggests key considerations for public and private sector decision-makers in addressing different regulatory approaches and possible policy mixes. It also provides a listing of reporting and related standards in mainly OECD countries, including the European Union (EU), as well as the emerging market economies of Brazil, India and South Africa.

Arguments in favour of voluntary standards include:

  • sustainability reporting is young and evolving and will therefore require time to mature. Mandatory standards will stifle innovation and not ensure moral buy-in
  • public regulators are often not acquainted with company or industry issues or might avoid difficult issues for political reasons

Arguments in favour of mandatory standards include:

  • not enough companies are taking up voluntary approaches, that the use of regulated guidelines and codes can add to the credibility of reports and help ensure a minimum level of disclosure
  • voluntary reports tend not to disclose negative information, and that mandatory reporting will ensure the development of a central and comparable source of data for use by investors and other stakeholders

The World Conservation Union (IUCN) convenes a new independent scientific advisory panel to monitor the impacts off Sakhalin Island

October 13, 2006

Those who are following the Sakhalin II developments will be interested to know that a scientific panel has been set up to provide further information on the situation, with a focus on developing best practice. It will be in interesting to consider the findings of the panel and any new or enhanced environmental management techniques they develop.

Gland, Switzerland, 2 October 2006 (IUCN) – Ten prominent international scientists will monitor the status of the critically endangered Western Gray Whale population in the Northwest Pacific and provide ongoing independent advice to a consortium of companies developing oil and gas reserves in the whale’s summer feeding grounds, off Sakhalin Island in the Russian Far East.

The new long-term Western Gray Whale Advisory Panel, convened by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) brings together independent scientific expertise to inform the decisions of oil and gas companies operating in the marine waters off Sakhalin Island and other interested stakeholders. In particular, the Panel will focus on the Sakhalin II oil and gas project being developed by Sakhalin Energy Investment Company Limited (Sakhalin Energy) and due to commence in spring 2007. Sakhalin Energy is a consortium of companies including Royal Dutch Shell and Japanese companies Mitsui and Mitsubishi Corporation.

The World Conservation Union is convening the Panel in response to the findings of an independent report, published in 2005, on the impacts of the Sakhalin II project on the whale population and following consultation with the oil industry and the conservation community.

“This Panel will help to incorporate long-term scientific findings into the design and management of oil and gas operations in the region, thereby contributing to the conservation and recovery of one of the world’s critically endangered giants,” said Carl Gustaf Lundin, Head of the IUCN Global Marine Programme.

“The Panel is a vehicle to provide useful scientific information and recommendations for the ongoing protection of the Western Gray Whale population, supporting industry best practice into the future and giving greater security to the companies involved. It puts non-governmental organizations, scientific institutions and the private sector on a level playing field, providing relevant, timely and accurate scientific knowledge to help each party make well-informed decisions, in the best interest of all,” said Ibrahim Thiaw, Acting Director General of IUCN.


Dramatic global rise in corporate responsibility reporting

August 4, 2006

A record number of leading global companies are voluntarily reporting on social and environmental issues, according to a report published today (Global Corporate Responsibility Reporting Trends 2006) by the corporate responsibility consultancy ‘Context’.

The Context report, based on information from the CorporateRegister.com database, analyses reporting of the world’s 300 leading public companies. It shows:
point Only 10 of the top 100 in Europe do not report;
point A majority of the US top 100 now publish a report;
point Most companies report on a wide range of issues rather than focusing solely on environment or philanthropy;
point The majority of European reporters use external assurance to validate their reports, but this is less common elsewhere and very rare in the US; and
point A growing number of these companies acknowledge the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) guidelines, but very few are formally “in accordance” with them.

But there are still question marks about the quality of reporting, Context directors argue:
Experienced reporters are eager to escape conformity with informal reporting standards to produce more effective communications;
point Companies need to focus on key issues, but find guidance on “materiality” issues unhelpful; and
point Reports need to be part of a process of improving performance and are not an end in themselves.

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Barclays, believes that business ethics are key ingredient to their record financial performance

August 4, 2006

John Varley, Group CEO of Barclays, explains why business ethic are so important to branding and maintaining good relationships with stakeholders – customers, employees, regulators and investors. Barclays sets out how these considerations have made an inherent contribution towards to their ongoing strong financial performance.

Imagine that you’re a big organisation, making good returns on capital. You can make choices that are irresponsible … but lucrative. But bit-by-bit, as the values that bind your organisation together are compromised through irresponsible choices, and the trust of your customers is diluted, your brand will suffer. And let’s be sure about this: brands are far more important to stock market value and sustained growth, than short term profits.

Beyond financial results

  • In February of 2005, Barclays reported a record financial performance.
  • A few weeks ago I was able to report another record performance – in the area of corporate responsibility.
  • Many of you will have seen the recent results of the Business in the Community “Companies that count” index in the Sunday Times. This year we’re 3rd – our highest ever ranking.

Our top three ranking reveals something important: a strong performance as a responsible corporate citizen does not conflict with strong financial performance.

Business-wide responsibility

We can’t (and shouldn’t) separate our corporate responsibility activity from our daily business. Nor can we separate corporate responsibility from our brand. That’s because the people we seek to reach with our brand expect us to be responsible.

Our stakeholders – customers, employees, regulators and investors are becoming more sensitive to our changing world. They are intensely interested in ethical, environmental and social issues, and business conduct. For customers making buying decisions, corporate responsibility is a point of difference. For talented people looking to move organisations, corporate responsibility is a point of difference.

Really making a difference

Another example of where we have taken an important lead is our involvement as a founder member of the Equator Principles. The Equator Principles form a framework for a thorough independent environmental – and social – assessment of the impact of project financing, for major infrastructural programmes, such as dams and pipelines and mining.

We’re a leading provider of financing of this sort. So it’s an important area of business for us. But we have made a choice about how we are going to participate in this business. And by doing so, we are influencing other participants. More and more governments and construction companies are making the same kind of choice.

They realise that financing will be easier to obtain if the project complies with the Equator Principles.

Extracts from the text of John Varley’s speech on 31st May at the Fifth Ethical Corporation Summit in London


Rachael Bailey discusses how to manage environmental and social risk in project finance

July 31, 2006

Applying the Equator Principles can dramatically improve the environmental and social risk profile of project financings. But their application can often be improved. Extract from the Article by Rachael Bailey and colleagues:

In the three years since their introduction, the Equator Principles have driven substantial environmental and social performance improvements in project finance. These voluntary guidelines, which essentially involve private sector banks committing to apply World Bank/International Finance Corporation (IFC) social and environmental risk management procedures to projects which they finance, have been adopted by institutions accounting for more than 80% of project finance flows.

There is now widespread awareness of the benefits of using the appropriate expertise at the outset to manage potential environmental and social risks throughout the project cycle, and thereby secure better financial terms at financial close and syndication. Ensuring that environmental and social risks are fully under control now plays a key part in securing confidence in project finance deals.

The full article can be viewed on the Equator Principles Website or the Environmental Finance website.

A copy of this article is available here for downloading. ef7equator_bailey_p28-30-v2.pdf