Reducing impacts on the local areas

All of the Group’s activities are planned and carried out with an awareness of its responsibility towards the communities and local areas: producing wealth while protecting the environment and respecting the expectations of its stakeholders. For this reason, Iren Group has developed performance monitoring tools such as environmental impact assessments, analytical controls, internal audits and legal compliance checks. At plants, external acoustic emissions are monitored to ensure the absence of any noise pollution to the local population. Even the products and services offered, before being placed on the market, are subjected to quality checks and controls, also to protect the health and safety of customers. In the event of faults, the Group has adopted specific procedures, which allow prompt and effective communication about service outages and disruption caused to residents within the times provided by legislation. For activities within the electricity, gas, water and district heating sectors, the Group also complies with the guidelines specified by ARERA. In addition to managing compliance with legislation, the Group has developed regulations, internal requirements and procedures and adopted initiatives that mitigate impacts on the health and safety of the public arising from the activities carried out. The main activities of the Group that impact the communities and local areas are described below.

Production of electricity and heat: in its Business Plan, Iren has made a strong commitment to the development of renewable sources and thermal and electrical storage to meet the challenge of decarbonization. The management of energy production activities is formalised by specific procedures and conducted in compliance with the law. Emissions are constantly monitored and controlled. Investments are being made constantly to optimise the energy efficiency of plants. Energy production plants are all equipped with control protocols, in compliance with environmental legislation and authorisation provisions. The combined production of electricity and heat makes it possible to develop the district heating service in a logic of circular use of resources and reduce environmental impacts.

Waste collection and management: the Group manages waste across all stages (collection, selection, transport, treatment and disposal) contributing to the recovery of materials and energy production, thus reducing the use of non-renewable resources. The circular economy is at the heart of the Group’s waste management strategy. It is committed to increasing the percentage of sorted waste collection with new technologies for the valorisation of non-recoverable waste, increasing the recovery of materials and the production of fuels from biodegradable waste at its plants.

Integrated water service: the monitoring of water network leaks is constant in order to reduce the waste of water resources. For this reason, the Group has defined specific objectives to reduce water withdrawals from the environment and dispersions in the network. Network control, extension and maintenance interventions are completed with the aim of minimising inconvenience for residents. The high quality of the water supplied is guaranteed by the continuous analytical controls carried out, even beyond the legal requirements, on the entire water process: from the capturing sources to treatment, filtration and disinfection processes, and from accumulation and storage tanks to the various points of the distribution network. In wastewater treatment, the Group undertakes to maintain the high operational standards of its plants and to inform the local community concerning the functioning of the plants. The focus on the sustainable use of resources is central to the 2030 Business Plan, which includes major investments to reduce network leaks, improve the quality of purified water and its reuse.

Gas distribution: the Group is committed to reducing the number of leaks through the gradual renewal of the network. The proper management of plants and gas networks, the use of appropriate resources and the use of suitable tools, together with continuous monitoring, are the main elements to ensure the safety of citizens, preventing potential impacts and accidents. These elements are subject to constant analysis and improvement measures in order to increase their effectiveness while respecting efficiency. Furthermore, in order to reduce disruption for local communities when sites are opened, residents, economic associations and Municipalities are involved in defining appropriate time frames.

Electricity distribution: in the management of electricity networks, one of the main objectives is the constant maintenance of plant service levels in compliance with the resolutions in force. To reduce the impacts on the territory and communities, the Group takes steps to ensure compliance with electromagnetic field limits through specific measurements on all new substations built (see page 209).

Public lighting: the most impacting factors are night-time light pollution, resulting from artificial light shining outside the designated areas (particularly towards the sky), and photobiological risk, linked to the possibility that looking directly at light sources can damage the human eye. These factors are monitored through the introduction, in the design phase, of stringent building criteria in the technical and purchase specifications for lighting devices (percentage of light flow emitted by the lighting device less than or equal to 1% and absence of photobiological risk RG=0).

Traffic light systems: in the design and construction of traffic light systems, stringent specifications are prepared for the choice of materials, which are binding and also review the critical issues that emerged in previous constructions of similar systems. The impacts on the health and safety of the public are also constantly analysed and monitored.

Site management: when managing construction sites of scheduled activities with the potential to create inconvenience for the public, the Group works by agreeing with stakeholders on the schedules, times and operational means and identifying strategic periods throughout the year (for example, during August), in order to minimise the impact on the public, with particular attention to disadvantaged groups and economic activities. Additionally, all the necessary measures are adopted to guarantee maximum site safety for residents, especially in cases of work carried out on roadside sites.

Realisation of new plants: the construction of new plants is an opportunity for growth for the local area in the medium- and long-term, in addition to being a necessity for the development of Iren Group; thus, dialogue between Iren and its stakeholders is necessary, based on transparency and correctness of information. Before embarking on the authorisation process to build new plants or infrastructures, the Group considers it essential to conduct information meetings with local communities, explaining the project in detail and its impact on the local areas. The Conference of Services is an example of cooperation between Public Administrations, residents, businesses and local bodies, where dialogue with citizens and institutions is guaranteed. For major projects, the party appointed to issue the authorisation convenes the Conference of Services (made up of the various interested parties), which must give its opinion concerning the feasibility of the project, indicating the necessary conditions to obtain the agreements, opinions, concessions, authorisations, licences, clearances and consents required by the law. For the operation of certain types of production installations, which may generate significant environmental impacts, an IEA (Integrated Environmental Authorisation) is necessary, which verifies that the operation to be authorised has limited environmental impacts, in compliance with the conditions set by the European Union. During the construction of new plants, all executive and management aspects are evaluated, with particular attention to assessing the impacts generated by the presence of construction sites. Audits are carried out on the work of the businesses’ personnel for all contracted activities in compliance with the procedures adopted in the context of the Integrated System (Quality, Environment, Safety). In 2021, there were no transfers, not even temporary ones, of people following on from the construction of new plants.

In 2021, there were two incidents with impacts on the local community: a company vehicle fire that occurred in Piacenza and a fire at the Voltri wastewater treatment plant. In addition, there were 3 lawsuits for damages, due to broken pipes and holes in the road surface, lost to citizens for a total amount of 2,868.48 Euro and 14 fines, for a total amount of 38,129.5 Euro, mainly connected with the reimbursement for the application of the surtax on excise duties on electricity, subsequently abolished due to incompatibility with EU law.