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).
Such infrastructures include thermal power stations, reservoirs, hydrodroelectric plants, wind farms, substations and underground and overhead power lines. These facilities and structures are located in places ranging from remote hills, forests and coasts to the very heart of cities.
The Iberdrola group works to minimise the impact that these essential elements of the infrastructures may have on natural capital and biodiversity.
Iberdrola applies the mitigation hierarchy approach (avoid, minimise, remedy and, as a last resort, compensate) in processes of environmental impact assessment (EIA) that it undertakes for new projects. These analyse alternatives, prioritizing avoidance of placing new infrastructure in protected areas or areas with a high biodiversity value although not protected, and, moreover, introduces good environmental practices using a systematic approach and methodology:
- Before starting the process, Iberdrola consults the various Stakeholders about new projects.
- It incorporates good building practices going beyond the applicable legal requirements in each case during the planning and the execution of works.
- After the administration procedure and during construction Iberdrola continues to work in conjunction with Stakeholders so that environmental effects may be as small as possible, as well as in restoring affected areas.
In this way, through the EIA procedures, Iberdrola identifies and assesses the potential impact of new projects. In the sections below are some examples of the good practices and the approach taken in the regions where Iberdrola operates.
PROJECTS AND INFRASTRUCTURES
"We ensure environmental success".
Most energy infrastructure projects are subjected to an environmental impact assessment. The studies also consider the socioeconomic impact of these projects.
The steps followed for the correct handling of works are as follows:
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.
"Support, improvement and care of biodiversity for the entire life cycle of the facilities".
In line with the group's policies, Mexico promotes support projects to preserve biodiversity. Those measures are implemented in previous stages prior to construction and also in the operational 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 centres, Local Coordination Committees and visitor centres 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:
- Consultations with the population, landowners, Scottish Natural Heritage, Historic Scotland and non-governmental organisations 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 to provide net positive results.
For the development of wind farms in the United Kingdom, two documents are available to serve as a reference 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 networks business has a program for which the objective is to meet and exceed environmental sustainability performance expectations of the stakeholders. To achieve this aim, a systematic framework has been established for ensuring that environmental sustainability considerations are integrated into existing and future operations, business functions, communications, partnerships and infrastructure across the organisation, based on:
- Study and training on how the works 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 audits (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
Iberdrola carries out environmental impact assessment and public consultations for all projects that require them, working 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, by means of a forecast and assessment with priority given to avoiding locating new infrastructure either within protected areas or within areas having a high biodiversity value even though not protected. If the initial analysis reveals that the impact is significant, the project is modified as far as possible, by adopting the best techniques available and measures identified as necessary to correct and minimise the impact. If full mitigation is not possible, compensatory 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 controls are established, and management systems implemented, most of which 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 Arrival of vehicles and machinery Opening of tracks and disturbance to ground cover 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 habitats of certain species) Animal mortality due to collisions and electrocution Changes in vegetation to maintain power line corridors, etc. Dumping and spillages 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 regard 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 and species Increase in greenhouse gas emissions and climate change Pollution of air, ground and/or aquatic 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