Preparing a Sustainability Impact Assessment to consider the contribution a coal fired power plant could make to the local area.
E.ON Kraftwerke AG (E.ON) planned to develop a coal fired power plant at the Port of Antwerp in Belgium. Although a Sustainability Impact Assessment of the planned work isn’t required by law, E.ON wanted to demonstrate best practice and make a strategic assessment focusing on what contribution the project would make to sustainability.
The main challenge was to demonstrate the benefits the coal-fired power plant development would provide at both a regional and a local level, particularly in relation to the ways in which to reduce/offset Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions for this type of electricity generation, and identify mechanisms to deliver benefits at both a local and regional level. This topic is of particular importance to local stakeholders such as the local communities and both small and medium enterprises.
ERM was commissioned to carry out the Sustainability Impact Assessment (SIA) for the proposed coal-fired power plant development. This strategic assessment would focus on the overall contribution the project would make to sustainability by summarizing how the project performs across all components in this area: governance, economic, social and environmental sustainability.
As an SIA isn’t a legal requirement, ERM needed to:
- establish the scoping relevant to this type of industrial project;
- set up an appraisal framework for each strand ie governance, economic, social and sustainability framework, including the systematic development of relevant sustainable objectives;
- assess the project against this framework/objectives and
- assess how the project contributes to, or moves forward to a more sustainable project.
The most challenging part was to identify key findings and recommendations on mitigation and/or enhancement that can be taken to improve the sustainability performance of the project. In order to do this, several workshops were set up to discuss and explore opportunities for enhancing the sustainability of the project, something which was as important as the final SIA Report.
The SIA would also provide E.ON with the mechanism to explore what contribution the plant could make to sustainability for the immediate location, Antwerp, Flanders and Belgium as a whole. It also supported the company’s policy on working towards responsible governance and accountability to its stakeholders.
E.ON then committed to external disclosure of the SIA through the publication of its SIA Report together with the operating permit application file.
Benefits and value
As a result of exploring opportunities for enhancing sustainability performance, both during the construction phase and the operating phase, E.ON received an independent and systematic Sustainability Impact Assessment Report.