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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: Issues addressed by our 2015-20 investment programme include:

    • low river flows that can occur during dry weather
    • phosphorous in rivers and streams
    • flooding from the sewerage system 
    • bathing water quality.

    The single largest scheme is the integrated supply grid which will involve investment of more than £200m over eight years. 

    Alongside investment in our physical assets, our work with farmers to better manage groundwater and river catchments means we can achieve improvements without significant increases in energy consumption or chemical dosing.

    Our environmental investigations are also centre to ensuring that future capital investment is focused on well-evidenced environmental impacts.

    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. Combined we paid approximately £12.4m for these in 2016-17.

    Other valuation methods: Calculating the hypothetical investment to eliminate an environmental impact is another way to assess environmental costs in monetary terms. Examples include the net cost of investing in renewable energy generation as an alternative to purchased fossil fuel-based energy, or the various costs of interventions to reduce inputs of phosphorous and nitrogen to the water environment. 

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

    In 2016-17 the monetary cost of our greenhouse gas emissions using shadow prices, based on guidance from the Department for Energy and Climate Change, would be £0.5m using traded carbon values and £7.9m using non-traded carbon values.

     There are some established market-based approaches such as carbon offsetting with prices reflecting varying levels of accreditation. Other environmental markets are emerging; for our part we are developing a system for trading reductions in nutrient leaching linked to farming practices.

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