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  • Finance

    Since 2002 we have produced accounts that look more widely at our sustainability impacts.

    They provide a monetary evaluation of environmental impacts that conventionally have not been dealt with through investment or some other payment

    And they summarise our expenditure on items relevant to sustainability in its broader sense.

    Environmental accounts

    Regulated investment: Our agreed investment programme for 2010 to 2015 includes a range of schemes to address issues including:

    • lower river flows that can occur during dry weather
    • nitrates and pesticides found in groundwater
    • phosphorus in rivers and streams
    • flooding from the sewerage system
    • bathing water quality.

    The single largest scheme is the integrated water grid which involves investment of more than £200 million over eight years. 

    Our proposals for investment during this five year period includes expenditure to respond to tighter quality standards and changing volumes associated with population growth and climate change.

    The challenge will be to do this without significant increases in energy consumption or chemical dosing.

    Alongside investment in physical assets, we are working closely with others to better manage catchments and surface water and address impacts on the water environment at source.

    Licences and fiscal measures: We are subject to numerous licences, taxes and other annual charges that have an environmental basis. These include abstraction licences and discharge consents paid to the Environment Agency, the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme (CRC) and the Climate Change Levy.

    Other valuation methods: Calculating the investment that would be needed to eliminate an environmental impact is another way to assess environmental costs in monetary terms. An example would be the net cost of converting energy and fuel to use renewable sources.

    A further approach is the use of shadow prices, such as carbon values issued by government for use in policy and project appraisal. These have been used in conjunction with our estimates of the whole life carbon footprint of each project in the investment programme when carrying out initial appraisals.

    The 2013 prices traded for carbon range from £0 to £16 per tonnes of carbon dioxide, and for non-traded carbon from £30 to £89 per tonnes of carbon dioxide. Our CRC payment came to £1.6m.

    In a few cases there are also market-based valuations, such as carbon offsets, through which the carbon dioxide avoided by renewable energy projects and the like are sold typically between £7 and £12 per tonne.

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