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 Iberdrola group works to minimise the impact that these essential elements of the infrastructures may have on the natural capital and the biodiversity.
The group's main projects in energy infrastructure are performed with the participation of Iberdrola Engineering and Construction, which is responsible for environmental impact studies and adherence to the conditions of the environmental impact report, and also introduces good environmental practices using a systematic approach and methodology:
- Before starting the official application stage.
- During planning.
- While executing the project.
- Throughout the operation and maintenance stage, during which Iberdrola discovers, minimises and/or avoids the major impacts on biodiversity.
PROJECTS AND INFRASTRUCTURES
"We ensure environmental success".
Most energy infrastructure projects are subjected to an environmental impact assessment. The studies will also consider the socioeconomic impact of these projects.
Before officially starting any administrative processes, Iberdrola establishes the steps required for the correct management of the work within the framework of the Iberdrola Environmental Management System, certified EN/ISO 14001:2004:
1. It systematically sends a project report to a wide group of institutions and NGOs that may be interested in it.
2. It identifies and documents legal requirements and other voluntary recommendations and good practices.
3. It implements the necessary criteria for environmental protection: the measures to be applied during construction, the insistence that contractors comply with these measures, and on-site checks through monitoring.
In addition, the business units responsible for each part of the infrastructure have a defined organisation charged with tracking compliance with the conditions of the environmental impact declaration throughout the planning and construction stages, and during the observation stage.
This system ensures a double control of these projects: by the owner (the business unit responsible for the infrastructure) and by Engineering and Construction.
"Support, improvement and care of biodiversity for the entire life cycle of the facilities".
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 stages prior to the projects and strictly aligned with the conditions established by the authorities, the following steps are taken:
1. Biodiversity studies in the areas in which future facilities will be built in order to have extensive knowledge of the species found in the surroundings of the facilities and their conservation status.
2. Vegetation and wildlife rescue programs, relocating species of special interest from the point of view of biodiversity.
During the operation phase we take into account specific projects for support of species protection, specifically in the area of Altamira.
"Our motto: to preserve the environment".
In Brazil, environmental impacts are assessed in the course of all our operations. Our commitment with preservation of the environment is essential, since 80% of the conservation units of Sao Paolo lie within the concession area.
- The projects for the construction of the company's power transmission lines and substations prioritise the definition of roads and lands with the least disturbance to vegetation and wildlife.
- The company strictly observes all current legislation and does not start any activity without first obtaining all required environmental permits.
- The Environmental Management System, certified under standard ISO 14001 since 2003, also includes activities related to environmental awareness-raising and conservation, as well as involving employees and communities. The guidelines imposed by the environmental impact declarations are followed in order to guarantee the preservation of the environment and compliance with environmental legislation and regulations via the implementation of actions to prevent contamination, always seeking to improve environmental performance.
"Working together with the Stakeholders to find the perfect location".
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.
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 Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).
- Guarantee that the projects are planned carefully, avoiding areas where particularly vulnerable landscapes or areas of special ecological or historical value might be spoiled.
- Reduce the impact of the company's activity in areas of high ecological value and adopt new techniques 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.
"Commitment: acting with 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).
The Renewables business 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
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.
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.
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.
In order to correctly prevent, minimise and correct any possible effects that may be generated both from each business and globally, the most significant general effects on biodiversity are identified. These effects derive from the activities, products and services of the group identified during the different life stages 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 of gases to the atmosphere 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.