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Environmental audit to answer Ilisu critics

UK 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 of London analysts and environmentalists as part of an ongoing bid by Balfour Beatty to improve its image on ethical issues.

Balfour Beatty told shareholders of the decision at its annual general meetingheld last month. '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, ' 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 would displace thousands of 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.

'Most of the big contractors already produce environmental audits, ' said Mike Foster, analyst at investment bank Granville Baird. 'So far, Balfour Beatty's commitment to sustainability is unproven.'

'A large and controversial scheme like Ilisu, which has significant commercial implications warrants the company to go over the environmental, humanitarian and political aspects very carefully - to treat the commercial risk with due diligence.'

www. balfourbeatty. com

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