INTERACTION WITH BIODIVERSITY
Minimise the impact on natural capital
Generating, moving, distributing and supplying energy to meet the needs of the company's customers means having the right infrastructures, which must be built, operated and maintained.
Twin Buttes Wind Farm (Colorado, United States).
These infrastructures include thermal power stations, reservoirs, hydrodroelectric plants, wind farms, substations and underground or overhead power lines. These facilities and structures can be located on remote hills, in forests or on coasts, even in the middle of cities.
The company works to minimise the impact that these essential elements of the infrastructures may have on the natural capital and the biodiversity.
The main energy infrastructure projects undertaken by Iberdrola are carried out with the involvement of Iberdrola Ingeniería y Construcción, which conducts the environmental impact studies, monitors the conditions of the environmental impact declaration and adds best environmental practices (prior to the beginning of the official processing stage, during planning and execution, and throughout the monitoring stage), with a systematic approach and methodology.
Wind power is a long-term commitment and the Company's approach is based on:
- Careful site selection, seeking places with the least environmental impact (for example, in commercial forests and abandoned land, where the impact on the landscape can be minimised and new habitats can be created for fauna and flora), and avoiding those areas where the facilities can cause unacceptable ecological harm to the landscape and natural beauty.
- Holding consultations from the initial stages of the project with all the parties involved: local authorities, landowners, nature protection organisations, the National Trust, etc. It pays particular attention to dialogue with stakeholders through meetings throughout the development and construction of new projects, establishing a single procedure of contact for the operational phase.
- Inclusion in the final design of the feedback obtained.
PROJECTS AND INFRASTRUCTURES
Most energy infrastructure projects are subjected to an environmental impact assessment. The studies will also consider the socioeconomic impact of these projects.
Prior to the beginning of the official processing stage, Iberdrola Ingeniería y Construcción systematically sends the project's report to a large group of institutions and NGOs that may be interested in the project. It also identifies and documents the legal requirements and other recommendations and voluntary best practices, establishes criteria for protecting the environment and measures to be applied during construction work, requires that the contractors observe these measures and monitors compliance on-site. This work is carried out within the framework of the Environmental Management System of Iberdrola Ingeniería y Construcción, which has been certified according to standard UNE/EN/ISO 14001:2004.
In addition, the business units responsible for each infrastructure have a defined organisation which takes care of tracking the conditions of the environmental impact declaration throughout the planning and construction stages and during monitoring.
These projects are therefore subjected to two controls: by the owner (business unit responsible for the infrastructure) and by Iberdrola Ingeniería y Construcción.
In line with the Group's policies, Mexico promotes projects to preserve biodiversity. Those measures are implemented in previous stages of the construction also in the operation phase.
In the pre-construction stages, biodiversity studies are carried out in the areas where future installations will be built, in order to know exhaustively the species that are in the environment of the facility and the conservation status in the area. Before the construction, Iberdrola realizes programs to rescue the flora and fauna and relocates species of special interest from the point of view of the biodiversity. All those initiatives are developed in strict adherence to the conditions established by the authorities.
In the operation stage, specific projects are underway to support the protection of species, specifically in the Altamira area.
In Brazil, the subsidiary Elektro evaluates the environmental impacts in the development of all its operations, realized that the preservation of the environment is essential. The 80% of the conservation units in Sao Paulo are integrated in its concession area. The projects of construction of power lines and substations give priority to define roads and lands that interfere minimally in fauna and flora. In addition, the Company strictly complies with current legislation and does not start any activity without first obtaining the necessary environmental permits. This is a premise of the Environmental Management System, maintained since 2003 and certified by the ISO 14001: 2004 standard that also contemplates actions related to environmental awareness and conservation involving employees and communities.
As regards companies partially owned by Iberdrola in Brazil, the conditions of the environmental impact declarations are followed to ensure the preservation of the environment, compliance with legislation and environmental standards, through execute actions to prevent Pollution and seeking the improvement of environmental performance.
The selection and land administration for new projects is essential, and ScottishPower is committed to collaborating with all the parties and stakeholders involved in consultation processes for relevant projects. In this regard, it holds discussions with the communities that will be affected by its activities, especially when planning new facilities. Thus, the communities can express their point of view and have an opportunity of participating in the project planning process. In large facilities and near population centers, Local Coordination Committees and visitor centers are set up so that the local population or any person can attend and get to know the activity carried out by the company. Community programs and consultations play an important role in identifying and addressing key matters of concern to the population.
Specific policies have been formulated for the laying of new overhead power lines in the United Kingdom in order to guarantee that the installation of distribution and transmission overhead lines is carried out in an environmentally-friendly manner. This approach includes numerous consultations with the population, landowners, Scottish Natural Heritage, Historic Scotland and non-governmental organizations like the RSPB, and guarantees that the projects are planned carefully, avoiding areas where particularly vulnerable landscapes or areas of special ecological or historical value might be spoiled. Work is also being carried out to reduce the impact of the company's activity in areas of high ecological value (power line burying and a new technique for placing overhead lines).
For the development of wind farms in the United Kingdom, two documents are available which are a benchmark for the sector's best practices: the Windfarm Sustainable Development Policy and the Windfarm Biodiversity Conservation Strategy. Both were prepared with information obtained from Scottish Natural Heritage, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), Friends of the Earth Scotland and WWF.
Avangrid has a company-wide commitment to Environmental Sustainability.
The objective is to meet and exceed environmental sustainability performance expectations of the stakeholders. To achieve this aim, Iberdrola has established a systematic framework for ensuring that environmental sustainability considerations are integrated into existing and proposed operations, business functions, communications, partnerships and infrastructure across the organization. The program includes the following key elements:
- Training on how individual jobs or projects impact the environment.
- Policies on activities that impact environmental compliance and sustainability.
- Establishment of corrective/preventative action process.
- Risk assessment and analysis through use of internal and external audits (regulatory officials) findings from the prior year.
- Benchmarking with other US utilities processes and procedures through active participation in organizations like USWAG (Utilities Solid Waste Activist Group).
Avangrid Renewables, integrates the Corporate Biodiversity Policy and establishes a process for maintaining relations with agencies and NGOs close to the sites in order to evaluate the various stages of its projects. It participated in the drafting of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service guide for the implementation of wind farms, which aims to protect biodiversity. Further information is available at the subsidiary's website (http://www.avangridrenewables.us).
MOST SIGNIFICANT IMPACTS ON BIODIVERSITY
Prior to the construction of a facility, the possible environmental impact is analysed, with a forecast and assessment. Once the risks of causing an environmental impact are known, the customary practice within the Group is to avoid locating new infrastructure either within protected areas or within areas having a high biodiversity value even though not protected. If the impact is significant, the project is modified to the greatest extent possible, with the adoption of the best techniques available and measures identified as necessary to correct and minimise the impact. If full mitigation is not possible, remedial measures are implemented.
100% of the projects so requiring them are subject to environmental impact assessment and public consultations. In all cases, work is carried out jointly with stakeholders in order for the environmental impact to be as low as possible. Some examples can be seen at the following links:
Control of environmental impacts does not end upon completion of the facility, but rather continues during the operation and decommissioning phases thereof. Monitoring plans and environmental control are established, and management systems are implemented, most of them are certified according to the standard ( ISO 14001 or EMAS ) to prevent and control environmental risks.
The most significant potential impacts on biodiversity arising from the Group's activities, products, and services. The interactions are produced during the different phases of the life of the facilities:
Construction Phase Insertion of vehicles and machinery Opening of pathways and changes in vegetation Prolonged human presence (which temporarily affects the behaviour of species of fauna, and is generally reversible) Changes in landscape Operation Phase Emissions Changes in the natural system of rivers and barrier effect of hydroelectric developments (affecting the ecosystems and habitat of certain species) Animal mortality due to collisions and electrocution Changes in vegetation to maintain power line corridors, etc. Discharges and spills Decommissioning Phase Use of machinery and vehicles to remove and demolish existing facilities Prolonged human presence (which temporarily affects the behaviour of species of fauna, and is generally reversible)
With a view to these impacts, we can single out a number of significant potential effects on biodiversity, arising from the activities, products and services of the Group:
POTENTIAL IMPACTS General impacts Loss of habitat Greenhouse gas emissions Pollution of environment Impact on avifauna Electrocutions Collisions Impact on terrestrial fauna Electrocution, trapping, etc. Impact on ichthyofauna Changes in water quality Discharges/spills into hydrological environment Impact on flora Production and spreading of fires Deterioration in the edaphic environment
Furthermore, Iberdrola aware of the impact of its activities on birds particularly, is taking care to protect them. The Bird Migration program, sponsored by Fundación Iberdrola and SEO / Birdlife is an example of our commitment to a bird-friendly energy. The Fundación Iberdrola España reinforces the commitment to the environment and biodiversity of Iberdrola through other research and conservation of birds.