Accounting for the impact of capital projects

Infrastructure plays a vital role in our everyday lives. Roads and railways not only allow freight to be transported, but make sure people get to their jobs and families. The electricity network provides power to homes and businesses. Flood defences stop damage to property and land, and can save lives.

But people’s lives are affected in different ways when new infrastructure is built. There may be positive effects, such as supporting jobs and the economy from construction activity and supply chains. But there can be negative effects too, eg. impacts on landscapes, archaeological sites and ecosystems. Negative perceptions of projects can result in planning delays and higher costs, or may stop a project going ahead at all. Whilst negative impacts can be reduced, this often comes at a cost that may eventually be borne by the tax payer or consumer.

With this in mind, SHE Transmission, part of SSE Plc’s electricity networks business, wanted to understand the impacts that building a transmission line had, beyond simply the financial ones.  SHE Transmission wanted to manage these different impacts, minimising the negatives whilst maximising the positives and it wanted to know which modifications worked best, delivering the most value for money.  A key aim was to have a more informed dialogue with its stakeholders, so an ability to communicate these different positive and negative impacts in a way that is easy to understand was important too.

By putting a value on the environmental, social and economic impacts using PwC’s Total Impact Measurement & Management (TIMM) framework, SHE Transmission was able to quantify and value the total impact of a transmission line and go on to create new valuation models to help support future projects. This led to SHE Transmission winning the Prince of Wales’s Accounting for Sustainability ‘Finance for the Future’ award.

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Watch: SHE Transmission using TIMM to measure impact

George Cobb, SSE’s Group Sustainability Accountant, talks to Alan McGill, PwC Partner, about the challenge faced by SHE Transmission to measure its impact and the benefits of doing so using PwC’s TIMM framework.

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Watch: SHE Transmission measuring to manage – why monetisation is more meaningful

George Cobb, SSE’s Group Sustainability Accountant, talks to Alan McGill, PwC Partner, about the power of putting a value in £’s on ‘intangible’ as well as ‘tangible’ impacts - and how this has changed their perspective  

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Watch: SHE Transmission gaining internal buy-in and support from the regulator

Hear George Cobb, SSE’s Group Sustainability Accountant, talk about the importance of internal buy-in and SHE Transmission’s aim to share best practice across the industry

Added value from measuring impact

Added value from measuring impact

Measuring the total impact of the transmission line meant SHE Transmission was able to put a value in £’s on all the impacts judged to be most important. This included the impact on natural capital such as the Scottish landscape.  For major infrastructure projects, this is an important element but one that until now is seldom monetised in a comparable and systematic way.

Now SHE Transmission knows how people think about different types of towers across different terrains, and have assigned monetary values to each.  They now use these values to help design routes for their infrastructure projects, to help consider all their stakeholders (communities and customers as well as engineers, regulators and investors).

This infographic shows a simplified version of what SHE Transmission found.

 

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Alan McGill

Partner, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0) 7711 915 663

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