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EAC opposes scrapping public sustainability reporting

The parliamentary environment watchdog has said it will not approve the Treasury’s proposal to scrap separate sustainability reporting requirements for Government departments.

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has written to chief secretary Danny Alexander to express concern that a requirement for sustainability performance indicators be removed from statutory annual reports and account.

The change was proposed in July among measures aimed at “streamlining and simplifying” reporting procedures.

“The current reporting framework is onerous and leads to departments focusing on meeting disclosure rather than embedding sustainable development,” the Treasury said.

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EAC chair Joan Walley, left, branded this “odd logic”, saying: “If departments were genuinely embedding sustainable development it would then be relatively straightforward to capture the results for reporting purposes.”

She also noted that compliance with the sustainability reporting requirements by Government departments had been “patchy”. The EAC recommended the introduction of separate sustainability disclosure in 2006.

The Treasury has said that sustainable development would still be included in reporting when it was a “key performance” measure or interacted with other performance measures.

Some sustainability requirements will be maintained, such as indicators around the “Greening Government Commitments”, which covers greenhouse gas emissions, waste, water, and sustainable procurement.

The Treasury has collected feedback on the suggestion for the new reporting framework. A final version will be submitted to the Financial Reporting Advisory Board for comment and approval.

Any changes will be introduced in the 2015-16 financial year.

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