Society & environment

Community

At Summerleaze, we enjoy playing a full part in the local communities where we are active. We live, work and play in these communities and support local improvements and activities, as much for the benefit of ourselves and our children as for the wider community.

We have a number of enthusiasms that we like (and are lucky enough to be able) to encourage:

  • Sports. We have been described as a sports club masquerading as a business. Particular passions are cricket and rugby, but we enjoy supporting (and participating in) a range of sports and the local clubs that provide the facilities.
  • Children's facilities. Children are our future. Given opportunities and support to develop (and not just academically), they are our society's greatest asset (not to mention our company's future employees). Stunted by lack of opportunity and support, they can become a liability. Summerleaze supports local facilities that help children to have fun.
  • Local infrastructure. The areas where we are involved have many attractions, but often they are under-utilised and -appreciated because of the limitations of the local infrastructure. These limitations range from the prosaic (access issues because of inadequate planning and investment in transport) to a lack of vision and imagination (piecemeal planning and cheap, short-term, low-quality development). Summerleaze has visions for the communities in which it is involved, which go beyond our commercial interests. We promote these visions and, if the community is supportive, encourage efforts to deliver them.

Broader society and environment

We also take broader social and environmental issues very seriously. While much uncertainty remains in the field of climate science, we regard the possibility of man-made climate-change as a risk that we ought to take account of. And we believe it is vital to develop alternative sources of energy (and other resources), as the deposits that have fuelled the growth in our prosperity for the last two centuries head towards the limits of their potential.

We have been investing in renewable energy since the early 80s, and have produced over two billion units (kWh) of renewable electricity since we opened our first power station in 1987. We continue to focus investment on developing businesses in immature sectors of the sustainable energy market, such as anaerobic digestion, biomass and renewable hydrogen.

We regard sustainable improvement in the well-being of mankind as the ultimate aim of our society and economy, and therefore of our business and our activities. We believe this is best achieved through the "invisible hand" of free markets. However imperfect may be the results, we have noticed that they are rarely so imperfect, inept and often downright perverse as attempts by governments and other organizations to intervene in or override genuinely free markets to "improve" social outcomes. We therefore regard the careful steering of our business to conserve capital and maximize returns as our primary responsibility to society at large.

We believe that trying to pick and back winners is the job of individuals and businesses, not governments. Government's job is to encourage and protect competition, and to provide mechanisms that enable the impacts of our choices to be measured and compared simply and objectively. Anyone who has ever looked at a Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA), Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA), Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and other tools that are commonly used for these purposes will know how complex are the methods, incommensurable are the factors, and subjective are the conclusions.

We believe that, where they can be used appropriately, markets and prices provide unsurpassable tools to simplify and clarify complex information. In the case of global climate impacts, this information should be encapsulated in a single carbon-price, which governments should provide the mechanisms to discover and apply equally to all emissions and sinks. In the case of local impacts, we believe impacts causing physical harm should be limited through regulation and enforcement, and the cost of other impacts should be encapsulated in the business rates (local taxes), which income should go to the local community.

Corporate Social Responsibility reporting

We use our judgement to direct our money and effort according to these priorities and beliefs, rather than to producing bureaucratic and glossy Corporate Social Responsibility reports to dress up our activities and to pat ourselves on the back.