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.


China drafts environmental guidelines for firms investing abroad

September 16, 2008

China is drafting environmental guidelines for companies investing in or providing economic aid to overseas countries.

 The work is being undertaken by the Chinese Academy for Environmental Planning (CAEP), in cooperation with the Global Environmental Institute (GEI) and the University of International Business and Economics. The first draft is now being discussed, the GEI said.

 A report released by the CAEP last week said the country lacked comprehensive environmental protection policies in its overseas projects, although investment had been expanding.

 Statistics show that between 2002 and 2006, China’s overseas non-financial direct investment grew by 60 percent annually. By the end of 2006, 5,000 Chinese companies had set up nearly 10,000 directly invested firms and invested $90.6 billion in 172 countries.

China’s overseas investment and aid mainly focuses on exploring oil and other resources, processing, manufacturing, and construction in African and Southeast Asian countries. Without proper management, such projects are likely to cause environmental problems, the report said.

In April, several companies, including China Mobile, Haier Group, and China International Marine Containers, joined “Caring for Climate”, a voluntary UN initiative to combat global climate change. Liu Meng, director of UN Global Compact China Office, told China Daily earlier that these companies’ participation suggests that China’s business sector is catching up with its international counterparts on climate issues.

China National Petroleum Corporation, the country’s largest oil producer, has pledged to stick to stringent environmental requirements before deciding on overseas projects.

Currently, only four banks in China have either formulated independent environmental standards for financing, or have joined the United Nations Environment Program Finance Initiative to reduce environmental risks.

Are PPP’s good at CSR?

July 28, 2008

This paper argues that the Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) are not always consistent with CSR and calls for an ethical code of practice to enhance PPP’s responsibility.

Key points include:

  • In a PPP, if the shareholders of a parent company, who would have benefited if things had gone well, are legally under no obligation to do anything if they go badly.
  • Trade Unions fear that PPP is an excuse for reducing pay, inflicting poorer working conditions and cutting staff levels.
  • CSR companies behave responsibly in all their negotiations and contracts, which is why, in the long run, they keep their clients – and their reputations to be on the safe side. PPP industry globally needs an ethical code of practice urgently before the whole procurement method of PPP is discredited.

West African Sustainable Finance UNEP Event

July 15, 2008

Over 90 financial service executives from West Africa gathered in Lagos to celebrate the new financial successes that the region has enjoyed over the past few years in an event hosted by UNEP FI’s African Task Force (ATF) and Citigroup, and co-sponsored by Oceanic Bank and Bank of Industry. The involvement of bankers, asset managers, government officials and academics from West Africa was critical in exploring the latest global developments in sustainable finance.

Participants gathered to welcome five Nigerian financial institutions as the newest UNEP FI Signatories: UBA Foundation, Oceanic Bank, Bank of Industry, Zenith Bank and Fidelity Bank. Roundtable discussions focused on climate change, carbon finance and the CDM in Africa, and environmental and social credit risk management. In addition, the results of a UNEP FI study on the barriers and drivers to commercial microfinance in Africa were released, along with case studies on innovative financing mechanisms for sustainable small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Equator Principles Celebrate Five Years of Positive Environmental Impact and Improved Business Practices

May 21, 2008

On May 8th sixty of the world’s leading financial institutions marked the fifth anniversary of the Equator Principles (EPs), voluntary standards for financial institutions to manage environmental and social risk in their project finance transactions.

The EPs have become the global standard for project finance and have transformed the funding of major projects globally. In 2007, of the US$74.6 billion total debt tracked in emerging markets, US$52.9 billion was subject to the EPs, representing about 71 per cent of total project finance debt in emerging market economies, according to Infrastructure Journal.

The EPs are now considered the financial industry ‘gold standard’ for sustainable project finance. The Principles were revised in June 2006 to reflect current implementation experience including introduction of a public reporting requirement, as well as changes made by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to its environmental and social standards. They continue to evolve as more sophisticated funding is undertaken.

An Outreach Committee has been formed and is actively engaged with banks in China, Russia, India and other key emerging markets. Stakeholder engagement remains an important element of the EP’s implementation and the group regularly meets to share experiences with various stakeholders.

EBRD 2008 Environmental and Social Policy

May 15, 2008

The 2008 Environmental and Social Policy is a key document of the Bank which details the commitments of the agreement establishing the Bank particularly for the “promotion of environmentally sound and sustainable development”. The 2003 Environmental Policy has been revised in order to reaffirm and strengthen these commitments and also to enhance commitments to social issues and good governance.

EBRD Publishes Public Information Policy

May 15, 2008

The new EBRD Public information policy (PIP) was approved on the 12th May. It sets out how the EBRD discloses information and consults with its stakeholders so as to promote better awareness and understanding of its strategies, policies and operations. At the same time, the PIP establishes clear lines of demarcation to distinguish information which is made publicly available (either on a routine basis or upon request) from information which may not be disclosed on the grounds of being confidential. This is to ensure that mutual trust is maintained between the Bank, its business clients and other partners.