CONTRACTOR BALFOUR Beatty is to publish an independently audited environmental report with its annual accounts to head off criticism of its involvement in controversial projects like Turkey's Ilisu Dam.
The move is being interpreted by City analysts and environmentalists as part of an ongoing bid by Balfour Beatty to improve its image on environmental and other ethical issues.
Balfour Beatty told shareholders of the decision at its annual general meeting last week.
'It is our intention that the environmental report will have the same status as our financial report. Data will be audited by a third party and subjected to the same kinds of external checking and balancing as our accounts, ' said Balfour Beatty communications director Tim Sharp.
Balfour Beatty has come under fire for its involvement in the consortium lined up to build Turkey's controversial Ilisu Dam.
Environmentalists and human rights activists claim that the hydroelectric scheme on the River Tigris in north east Turkey would displace thousands of ethnic Kurds and have a catastrophic ecological impact. It is also feared that Turkey's control of river flows would unbalance delicate political relationships with neighbouring Syria and Iraq.
'Balfour Beatty has been behind the curve. Most of the big contractors are already producing environmental audits, ' said Mike Foster, an analyst at investment bank Granville Baird. 'So far, Balfour's commitment to sustainability is unproven, ' he said.
'A particularly large and controversial scheme like Ilisu, which has significant commercial implications for Balfour Beatty, warrants the company to go over the environmental, humanitarian and political aspects of the scheme very carefully - to treat the commercial risk posed with due diligence.'