BARCLAYS COOKS ITS GOOSE ; Bank in Hot Water with Environmental Groups as Its `Green' Credentials Are Compromised by Backing for Iceland Dam Project That Threatens Migrating Birds. Severin Carrell Reports
Carrell, Severin, The Independent on Sunday (London, England)
Barclays has been accused of breaking its "green" pledges after backing a highly controversial dam project in Iceland that threatens three species of goose. Furious British environmental groups are threatening consumer boycotts and shareholder action after the bank's finance arm, Barclays Capital, agreed to help arrange a $400m (pounds 240m) loan for Iceland's national power company.
The money will help Landsvirkjun build a vast hydroelectric dam deep in Iceland's wilderness to supply power to a big new Alcoa aluminium smelter. The dam, Karahnjukar, dominates Landsvirkjun's current investment programme.
However, conservationists led by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and WWF UK have warned that the dam will destroy the nesting and feeding grounds for 7,000 rare pink-footed geese who winter in Britain, and wreck the "staging areas" for barnacle and greylag geese who nest every summer in the UK.
To Barclays' embarrassment, the row comes only a month after it signed the "Equator Principles", a voluntary code of practice agreed by 10 big banks on corporate social and environmental responsibility. The code would uphold "sound environmental management practices" and force all projects worth over $50m to be audited and tested against criteria including environmental damage, pollution and sustainability.
Barclays' corporate social responsibility director, Chris Lendrum, said last month that the bank took its CSR duties "seriously". …