Scrapping OFR was not death knell for environmental reporting - Defra

Defra and the Dti have gone on a PR offensive this week to try to convince a dubious business world that scrapping the OFR did not mean that Government had stopped caring about companies reporting on environmental performance.

But pressure groups and political opposition have honed in on the launch of the Government's Environmental Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) saying they are a pale imitation of the abandoned Operating and Financial Review (OFR) regulations and will do little to protect the environment and shareholders.

Elliott Morley launched the KPIs this week warning that media coverage of the removal of the OFR because it was 'unnecessary gold plating' on the EC inspired Business Review had suggested that environmental reporting was no longer necessary.

He told reporters that was 'simply not the case'.

"All quoted and large private companies preparing the new Business Review will need to report significant environmental issues," he said.

"The Business Review represents a significant advance in narrative reporting standards, including those for environmental reporting.

"But these reports required under the EU Accounts Modernisation Directive need not be a burden. To help companies make the most of these opportunities, we have produced a set of new easy-to-use guidelines.

"In addition, these can be used by all companies, not just those that are legally obliged to prepare a Business Review.

"Indeed, businesses measuring, managing and reporting their environmental performance can save on costs, enhance reputation and reduce risk."

But Friends of the Earth dismissed Morley's claims arguing the level of reporting required by the Business Review is much lower and therefore of much less value to investors and stakeholders.

"The Government is trying to have its cake and eat it - but the result is smorgasbord of confusion. And the result is that neither investors or the wider public will be any the wiser as to what a company is doing," said FoE's corporate accountability campaigner Craig Bennett.

"Glossy CSR reports that provide a one-sided version of a company's environmental performance are of absolutely no use to anyone. Business has an important role to play in tackling the big environmental issues such as climate change.

"What we need is proper reporting, with key performance indicators and clear information as to how companies are going to tackle the environmental issues they face."

By Sam Bond



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