Angeli Mehta reports on how the water firm is using natural and social capital in its sustainability accounting
Yorkshire Water road-tested the Natural Capital Protocol to help it decide what to do about a sludge landfill site that is coming to the end of its natural life. It worked with Arup, which has developed its own natural capital framework. A baseline survey provided information about habitat and land use, and what Yorkshire Water was putting into the site in terms of both landfill and vehicles visiting, for example.
Hannah James, lead adviser on sustainability at Yorkshire Water, said the company was interested in exploring whether aluminium oxide from water treatment could be recovered and the environmental implications: would it lead to degradation elsewhere?
It doesn’t matter what you label it as long as we know what the outcomes are, and they are consistent.”
A baseline of doing nothing was compared against four options: aluminium oxide recovery, house building, developing a solar farm, or handing the land to a third party for biodiversity management.
“It was quite challenging,” says James. There were a lot of assumptions and hypotheticals. “We looked at carbon pricing from the Treasury green book; case studies from other sites; then generated discounted cash-flow analysis using monetary figures for environment and social impact.” From all the research,...