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BT sticks with wind farm plans - for the time being

BT sticks with wind farm plans - for the time being

BT currently remains committed to its plans to build a wind farm in the UK, despite previously expressing reservations that the project could be abandoned because of concerns it would be penalised under upcoming carbon legislation.

In February, BT's chief sustainability officer Dr Chris Tuppen told BusinessGreen.com that the firm was rethinking the business case for the £250m project, because under the imminent Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) it could not claim renewable energy subsidies as well as count the emissions savings from the development towards its reported CO2 reductions totals.

However, in its annual sustainability report released earlier this week, the company reaffirmed its commitment to the plans.

A spokesman told BusinessGreen.com that the company would await the result of the CRC consultation due in September or October this year before reaching a final decision on the high-profile project.

If implemented, the development would be the biggest corporate wind power project outside the energy sector.

BT hopes the site will provide up to 25 per cent of its UK electricity needs by 2016 and is currently assessing 20 potential sites in the UK.

According to the sustainability report, about 41 per cent of BT's energy already comes from renewables, but the bulk of that is provided by third-party suppliers.

The sustainability report also revealed that the onset of recession had led to a change of focus in its environmental plans.

"We are restricting our expenditure in some areas," says the report. "For example, we are focussing our energy efficiency efforts on those projects that deliver emission reductions, without requiring significant capital investment, which in turn helps us to be a more sustainable business."

However, the telecommunications and IT services firm said that it remained fully committed to its long-term target to cut CO2 emissions to 80 per cent below 1997 levels by 2020.

By 2006 it had managed to achieve a 57 per cent reduction below 1997 levels but since then has struggled to keep up the initially rapid rate in emission reductions. Between 2006 and 2008 it only managed to reduce its emissions by a further 300,000kg of CO2 - leaving overall reductions against 1997 levels still hovering at around 57 per cent.

Last year saw a more impressive reduction in annual emissions of 27.6 million kilograms, despite the company purchasing more electricity. But this was largely attributed to cuts in company travel costs, which were at least partly the result of 15,000 job cuts over the course of the year.

However, BT executives insisted that its progress against environmental targets were not solely a result of reduced headcount.

"For more than a decade we've been taking steps to reduce our energy use, to invest in low-carbon energy supplies, and to involve our people and suppliers," said BT chief executive Ian Livingstone. "This has seen our UK carbon footprint fall by 58 per cent since 1996 and prevented more than 27,000 tonnes of CO2 from being emitted last year. Now we have the opportunity to share what we've learnt with our customers and help them reap the benefits.

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