post

OECD NUCLEAR ENERGY AGENCY REPORT: THE PARIS AGREEMENT AND THE NEED FOR LOW-CARBON ELECTRICITY SYSTEMS

The Nuclear Energy Agency of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recently published its much heralded report, the Costs of Decarbonisation: System Costs with High Shares of Nuclear and Renewables.

Click here to read the OECD report

Clean Electricity Generation

In 2015, in the well-known Paris Agreement. some 174 countries and the EU agreed to limit the global average temperature rise to well below 2°C. In this context, as electricity generation is responsible for 40% of global CO2 emissions, it makes sense to switch from polluting generating sources to cleaner and more sustainable methods. However, this will require a carbon emissions target of 50 g/kWh. Thus, countries are inevitably trying to meet their climate change obligations through the adoption of low-carbon but capital intensive electricity generation, through solar, wind, hydro and also nuclear.

However, as the report recognises, this has resulted in large inefficiencies within the electricity supply system, to the point where “the challenge is almost impossible to overcome in the current low-price environment…”. New, more robust energy market policies are now required to provide stability and confidence, whilst it is necessary to realign systems and markets to ensure security of supply and system reliability.

OECD Report

The study looked at the costs of low-carbon electricity systems that would work towards the goals of the Paris Agreement, through eight different scenarios which allowed for different shares of variable renewable energy (i.e. wind and solar), hydro and nuclear in a large, well-interconnected system.

The report concludes that the generation mix which meets electricity demand at a minimal cost primarily relies on dispatchable low-carbon generation technologies, such as nuclear power and hydroelectric power, and notes that the cost of electricity generation increases with the share of VRE enforced in the system.

In its final paragraph, the report states that OECD countries should move together on the design of low-carbon electricity systems. There is, it says, a high likelihood that the orientations provided by competitive markets for short-term dispatch, carbon pricing, centralised mechanisms for infrastructure provision, long-term stability for investors in low-carbon capacity and the internalisation of system costs  will remain the appropriate reference for the design of low-carbon electricity systems in decades to come.

Conclusion

The report is not without its detractors. One commentator remarked that unrealistic and outdated numbers were used and that other studies counter the report’s assertion that more Variable Renewable Energy means a higher cost of electricity.

However, the report does make a strong case for the use of nuclear power in any energy mix going forwards, yet comes at a time when nuclear newbuild projects in the UK are collapsing at a high rate.

About the Author

Prospect Law is a multi-disciplinary practice with specialist expertise in the energy and environmental  sectors with particular experience in the low carbon energy sector. The firm is made up of lawyers, engineers, surveyors and finance experts.

This article remains the copyright property of Prospect Law Ltd and Prospect Advisory Ltd and neither the article nor any part of it may be published or copied without the prior written permission of the directors of Prospect Law and Prospect Advisory.

This article is not intended to constitute legal or other professional advice and it should not be relied on in any way.

For more information or assistance with a particular query, please in the first instance contact Adam Mikula on 020 7947 5354 or by email on adm@prospectlaw.co.uk.

For a PDF of this blog click here

post

CANCELLATION OF INTENT TO BUILD ABWR SITE AT WYLFA: POSSIBLE IMPACT ON THE NUCLEAR INDUSTRY

After spending some £2bn on pre-construction and licencing activities, the cancellation by Hitachi of the intent to build an ABWR site at Wylfa is disappointing and worrying for the industry.  The implication and shock-wave consequences are huge, for short-term employment and, more importantly, sweeping away the underpinning need for the development of nuclear skills for the future.

The Government must now reassess its energy security strategy AND its commitment to financially supporting large infrastructure projects.  Nuclear is ideal in providing base-load power certainty and consequently provides a guaranteed 24/7 income stream to repay any loan required for construction.  It is fair to ask why HS2 is being supported by public money, whilst yet the energy sector is considered sufficiently robust that Government backed loans are deemed unacceptable.  Construction of nuclear power is financially supported by central governments in other countries, so why should the UK be any different?

The implications for Research and Development into nuclear compatible materials, sophisticated manufacturing, inspection techniques, 21st century control systems, and nuclear fuel technologies are very serious.  Decommissioning will not fill the gap.

What now for Sizewell C and Bradwell: can we look forward to similar announcements?

Yes, I hear the cry that SMR’s will be supported and that they are cheaper and quicker to build and install.  Nevertheless, this ignores the key fact, namely that they are (currently) an unproven and unlicensed technology with many unresolved issues, including those related to spent fuel conditioning and management. The safety of having multiple reactors controlled from a single work-station location also has to be thought through.  Also, the time necessary to build 12 SMR’s, in parallel on the same congested site, will be at least as long as that needed to build a large conventional station.

Although Ministers are being all consumed by BREXIT, Parliament needs to issue an early restatement of energy policy and its commitment to nuclear power.

About the Author

John Ireland is an internationally experienced energy specialist and senior business executive skilled in the development, negotiation, and management of businesses and technically complex contracts within both the Government and private sectors.  John, a Chartered Engineer and Fellow of the Institution of Chemical Engineers, has been Chief Engineer advising clients on nuclear new build in Romania and investigating opportunities in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Turkey, and Project Manager for the treatment and management of toxic and radio-toxic chemical wastes in the UK, Japan, and the EU.

Prospect Law is a multi-disciplinary practice with specialist expertise in the energy and environmental  sectors with particular experience in the low carbon energy sector. The firm is made up of lawyers, engineers, surveyors and finance experts.

This article remains the copyright property of Prospect Law Ltd and Prospect Advisory Ltd and neither the article nor any part of it may be published or copied without the prior written permission of the directors of Prospect Law and Prospect Advisory.

This article is not intended to constitute legal or other professional advice and it should not be relied on in any way.

For more information or assistance with a particular query, please in the first instance contact Adam Mikula on 020 7947 5354 or by email on adm@prospectlaw.co.uk.

For a PDF of this blog click here

post

THE ENVIRONMENT (PRINCIPLES AND GOVERNANCE) BILL: ENVIRONMENTAL STANDARDS AFTER BREXIT

On 19 December 2018 the government published draft Clauses on Environmental Principles and Governance. These are supposed to address the arrangements for the effective enforcement of environmental laws in England after Brexit, when enforcement by the European Commission and the Court of Justice of the European Union will no longer be available.

Publication of the Clauses followed a consultation which produced over 175,000 responses. The Clauses, published as a draft Environment (Principles and Governance) Bill are intended to be part of a wider Environment Bill to be introduced in 2019, covering air quality, protection and enhancement of landscapes, wildlife and habitats, more efficient handling of resources and waste and better management of surface, ground and waste water.

The government now summarises its legislative proposals, made in pursuance of section 16 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, as follows –

“The draft Environment (Principles and Governance) Bill sets out how the government will maintain environmental standards as we leave the EU. It also details how we will build on the vision of the 25 Year Environment Plan.

This includes creating an independent body – the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) – which will-

  • scrutinise environmental law and the government’s environmental improvement plan (EIP)
  • investigate complaints on environmental law
  • take enforcement action on environmental law.

The draft Bill commits the government to publishing a policy statement which will set out how ministers should interpret and apply environmental principles. It also commits government to have a plan for environmental improvement.

The broader Environment Bill will also include measures on air quality, nature recovery, waste and resource efficiency and water management.”

By Brexit, the UK will lose  –

  • Treaty obligations reinforcing environmental laws;
  • Enforcement by the European Commission;
  • Enforcement by the Court of Justice of the European Union;
  • The ultimate sanction of EU Member States risking fines for continuing breaches of EU law;
  • Legal requirements on government to secure that penalties for breaches are “effective, proportionate and dissuasive” (see e.g. Water, Waste, Air Quality Framework Directives, REACH Regulation etc); and
  • Rights of individuals to activate enforcement of environmental laws, at no cost, through complaints to the Commission

In May 2018, Secretary of State EFRA, Michael Gove MP, declared that –

“Our new Environmental Principles and Governance Bill is designed to create a new, world-leading, independent watchdog to hold government to account on our environmental ambitions once we have left the EU. The role which has been played in the past by the EU Commission and courts should be filled now by a UK body embedded in the UK’s parliamentary democracy.”

The May 2018 consultation considered (para 137-8) that –

“Subject to the outcome of this consultation, we believe the most appropriate approach may be to create an independent body that will be accountable to Parliament…”

However in place of the robustly independent body, accountable to Parliament, that was proposed, the Office of Environmental Protection would under these clauses be appointed, and funded, by the same Secretary of State.

The Office of Environmental Protection would be able to issue an Information Notice, a Decision Notice, and eventually to make a “review application” to the High Court or Court of Session, and maybe to make a public statement about breaches of environmental law, but all mention of the powers of the European Commission to seek and the Court of Justice of the European Union to impose, a fine for non-compliance with environmental laws has been omitted.

The draft Clauses apply the environmental principles to the actions of Ministers and public authorities through the Secretary of State’s Policy Statement. It is the Policy Statement to which Ministers must have regard.  This allows much scope for Ministerial lobbying against enforcement action, and for re-interpretation of which principles should apply and how, instead of applying the principles directly to the discharge of functions by public bodies.

Three wide exemptions are driven through the scope and application of the Policy Statement on the application of Environmental Principles –

“The statement may not deal with policies relating to—

(a) the armed forces, defence or national security,

(b)  taxation, spending or the allocation of resources within government, or

(c)  any other matter specified in regulations made by the Secretary of State.

These exemptions appear unjustified, inconsistent with EU environmental law which the government has promised to transpose into national law, and inconsistent with the express ambition of the Secretary of State to have a “world-leading, independent watchdog to hold government to account on our environmental ambitions once we have left the EU”. There is a long way to go in amending these Draft Clauses before they can be said to deliver anything equivalent to the force and enforcement of EU environmental laws.

                                                         William Wilson, Prospect Law Ltd

About the Author

William Wilson is a specialist environmental, regulatory and nuclear lawyer with over 25 years experience in government, private practice and consultancy. He worked as a senior lawyer at the UK Department of the Environment/DETR/Defra, and helped to build up the environmental and nuclear practices at another major law firm, as well as running his own environmental policy consultancies. William has experience of all aspects of environmental law, including water, waste, air quality and industrial emissions, REACH and chemicals regulation, environmental protection, environmental permitting, litigation, legislative drafting, managing primary legislation, negotiating EU Directives and drafting secondary legislation.

Prospect Law is a multi-disciplinary practice with specialist expertise in the energy and environmental sectors with particular experience in the low carbon energy sector. The firm is made up of lawyers, engineers, surveyors and finance experts.

This article remains the copyright property of Prospect Law Ltd and Prospect Advisory Ltd and neither the article nor any part of it may be published or copied without the prior written permission of the directors of Prospect Law and Prospect Advisory.

This article is not intended to constitute legal or other professional advice and it should not be relied on in any way.

For more information or assistance with a particular query, please in the first instance contact Adam Mikula on 020 7947 5354 or by email on adm@prospectlaw.co.uk.

For a PDF of this blog click here

post

FOSSIL FUELS: THE POSSIBLE IMPACT OF REDUCED INSURANCE COVERAGE

Growing Opposition

In September 2016 a Lutheran pastor in America’s Washington state led a blockade of a train of oil tankers; he and other members of ‘Veterans for Peace’ were repeating a similar blockade earlier in 2016 of a coal train by ‘Raging Grannies’.

These events could easily be dismissed as the actions of a minority of climate cranks, but that would be foolish. Since 2016, these anti fossil fuel protests have become increasingly mainstream, and the insurance market has witnessed growing and successful pressure intended to shame insurers into refusing to insure the coal industry.

The protestors no doubt feel added legitimacy for this pressure, since the publication of the IPCC’s October 2018 report that calls for urgent action within the next 12 years to keep global warming to 1.5oC, and, even more recently, the EBRD’s announcement that it too will no longer fund coal and oil projects.

Non-Governmental Organisations

Whatever one feels about the climate change debate, the pressure on the insurance market and wider financial services sector has been successful. One NGO, Unfriend Coal, is leading a campaign to render the coal industry uninsurable. Moreover, 2018 has seen large insurance businesses such as Allianz, Aviva, Scor, Swiss Re and Lloyd’s of London, scale back their coal industry involvement, largely in response to this campaign.

Unfriend Coal’s ultimate objective is to starve coal of finance, by denying the investors the security of insurance. However, as the CEO of Swiss Re said back in July: “it’s not simple…if you stopped financing and insuring it tomorrow it would be a disaster for society”.

Unfriend Coal is certainly right about one thing: the insurance sector is right at the centre of this debate. On the one hand insurers bear the brunt of the increasing scale of natural catastrophe losses, howsoever caused, and they fund numerous research projects into this subject and into climate change.

Impact on Less Developed Countries

On the other hand, insurance is an essential component in any finance arrangement for a project. Insurers have an obligation to be responsible players in society, by underwriting investment projects that will help improve living standards for the two-thirds of humanity who live in less developed nations.

These may be coal fired power projects because basic energy provision is often the first step towards unlocking greater prosperity. It’s not a perfect world and the insurance sector must serve the world as it is as today, as well as try to respond to those who want change for tomorrow. Coal mining and power generation will likely play an increasing role in South East Asia and Latin America in the coming decade, even as some developed nations reduce or even stop fossil fuel use.

Nevertheless, there is still disunity amongst OECD countries. Australia and the United States are politically supportive of coal and consequently there have been no insurers there reducing their exposure to the coal industry.

Conclusion

So, what to do? Follow the money and keep insuring risks that are unfashionable and unpopular, or stop insuring sectors that have been fingered as climate changing by a prosperous first world minority that perhaps watches too much TV.  This dilemma is an uncomfortable one for a sector that isn’t really used to the limelight and just normally gets on with the job of mitigating the risks facing so much of today’s human endeavour.

Fossil fuels are ‘dirty’, and most would agree we can’t just blindly continue polluting the world as we have done in the past, but insurers need to take a step away from the ideology and remember that the priority surely is to continue lifting as many as possible out of poverty, by supporting infrastructure investment.

This implies judging each project on its merits. It means taking the foot off the throttle, but not jamming on the brakes. For the sake of human progress, insurance needs to play its part in unlocking good investment projects of all types that could reduce poverty for millions more, rather than turn its back on whole sectors of economic activity.

About the Author

Mark Tetley has wide experience gained from senior positions across the London insurance market as  both an underwriter  and a broker , in a variety of sectors. He provides advice and assistance on a wide range of insurance and risk issues, including comprehensive nuclear liability and property insurance assistance, complex infrastructure project programme design and review, claims and policy reviews, assistance with project insurance design and implementation in developing countries, and many other aspects of risk mitigation.

Prospect Law is a multi-disciplinary practice with specialist expertise in the energy and environmental sectors with particular experience in the low carbon energy sector. The firm is made up of lawyers, engineers, surveyors and finance experts.

This article remains the copyright property of Prospect Law Ltd and Prospect Advisory Ltd and neither the article nor any part of it may be published or copied without the prior written permission of the directors of Prospect Law and Prospect Advisory.

This article is not intended to constitute legal or other professional advice and it should not be relied on in any way.

For more information or assistance with a particular query, please in the first instance contact Adam Mikula on 020 7947 5354 or by email on adm@prospectlaw.co.uk.

For a PDF of this blog click here

post

POST-BREXIT IMMIGRATION UPDATE –WHITE PAPER PUBLISHED

The UK government published a White Paper yesterday setting out its plans for post-Brexit immigration, which are expected to be brought into force from 1 January 2021.

The long awaited White Paper (WP) is the official approval by the government of the recommendations made by the Migration Advisory Committee in September 2018.

Click here to view the full white paper.

Post-Brexit Immigration

The White Paper proposes a single, skills-based immigration system, focused on talent and expertise rather than nationality. Essentially the proposal is to continue with our existing points based immigration system but to bring EU nationals within it.

It includes the following positive changes:

  • Removing the quota on Tier 2 General visas: The WP proposes to remove the cap on these visas which is currently set at 20,700 per year.
  • Removing resident labour market test: The WP proposes to abolish the requirement for employers to complete a Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) before sponsoring a foreign worker for a Tier 2 General Visa. Currently, employers are required to advertise a vacancy for 28 days to confirm that no British or EEA nationals are suitable for the role.
  • New short-term visa for low-skilled workers: The WP proposes to create a new visa category for low-skilled workers, allowing initial visas up to 12 months that will not require employer sponsorship. The 12 month visa will provide the right to work, but people arriving on this route will not be able to bring family members with them or take benefits nor will they accrue rights to settle in the UK. They will also have a 12-month cooling off period once their visa expires.
  • No visa for EU visitors: The WP proposes that EU nationals would be able to enter the United Kingdom for short-term trips as tourists or business visitors without a visa.
  • Consultation on salary threshold: The WP confirms that UK authorities will launch a public consultation on the current minimum salary requirement of £30,000 for Tier 2 (General) Visa applications.
  • There are also proposals for improved border security checks and an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) Scheme including allowing citizens from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, USA, Singapore and South Korea to use e-gates to pass through the border on arrival, alongside EU and UK citizens.

The proposed changes would partly address a number of concerns expressed by businesses over the past months, including the anticipated drain of low-skilled EU workers after Brexit. It would also hopefully make the system much quicker given the removal of the Tier 2 quota and the RLMT. Conversely, the government admits that these proposals could reduce the UK workforce by between 200,000 and 400,000 EEA nationals over the first 5 years meaning that GDP would be between 0.4 and 0.9% lower than it otherwise would have been in 2025.

This new immigration system will be implemented in a phased approach from 2021 following an extensive 12-month programme of engagement with businesses, stakeholders and the public by the Home Office. The proposals may of course change depending on any future trade deal struck with the EU.

EU Citizens already living in the UK

It is important to note that the White Paper outlined above is about the UK’s future post-Brexit migration system and does not affect EU citizens already living in the UK, who will be able to (and will need to) apply for “settled status” in order to stay legally after Brexit.

In summary under the terms of the proposed Settlement Scheme:

  • EU citizens and their family members who, by 31 December 2020, have been continuously resident in the UK for five years will be eligible for “settled status” enabling them to stay indefinitely;
  • EU citizens and their family members who arrive by 31 December 2020, but will not yet have been continuously resident here for five years, will be eligible for “pre-settled status”, enabling them to stay until they have reached the five-year threshold. They can then also apply for settled status;
  • EU citizens and their family members with settled status or pre-settled status will have the same access as they currently do to healthcare, pensions and other benefits in the UK;
  • Close family members living overseas will still be able to join an EU citizen resident in the UK at any time after 2020, where the relationship existed on 31 December 2020 and continues to exist when the person wishes to come to the UK. Future children are also protected; and
  • Settled status will only be lost after 5 years’ absence from the UK.

No Deal

If we leave the EU on 29 March 2019 with no deal, the protections on offer to EU citizens will be diluted as follows. See the Department for Exiting the EU’s no-deal paper on citizens’ rights published on 6 December 2018 for further detail:

  • The Settlement Scheme will only apply to EU citizens who arrive before 29 March 2019 rather than as currently planned for EU citizens arriving up to the end of 2020.
  • There will be a shorter deadline for applications, of 31 December 2020, rather than 30 June 2021.
  • There will be no right of appeal to an immigration judge to challenge a refusal of settlement under the scheme.
  • There would be a cut-off point of 29 March 2022 for family members of EU citizens with settled status to join them in the UK.

There is so far no clarity on the status of EU nationals arriving in the UK between 30 March 2019 and 1 January 2021 in the event of no-deal.

On the plus side in a no-deal scenario, the Home Office says that the Settlement Scheme would still be generous and user-friendly, with case-workers “looking to grant status, not for reasons to refuse”. The Home Office are not always known for being generous and user friendly so this would be a welcome development.

Please note that if you are an EU national and have already been living in the UK for several years, you may already have acquired a permanent or other right of residence under existing EU regulations. Given that the UK is still for the moment a full member of the EU and depending on your personal situation, it might be a good idea to regularise your situation now to ensure minimal disruption over the next few years.

About the Author

Alice Boyle is a solicitor with extensive experience in all areas of immigration law. She can assist both corporate and individual clients with any immigration, nationality or asylum matter and possesses a sound understanding of Tier 1 Investors, Tier 1 Entrepreneurs and Tier 2 matters. Alice has substantial experience of challenging UK Home Office decisions, regularly representing clients in appeals at both the First-Tier and Upper Tribunal and also by way of Judicial Review applications in both the Upper Tribunal and UK High Court.

Prospect Law is a multi-disciplinary practice with specialist expertise in the energy and environmental sectors with particular experience in the low carbon energy sector. The firm is made up of lawyers, engineers, surveyors and finance experts.

This article remains the copyright property of Prospect Law Ltd and Prospect Advisory Ltd and neither the article nor any part of it may be published or copied without the prior written permission of the directors of Prospect Law and Prospect Advisory.

This article is not intended to constitute legal or other professional advice and it should not be relied on in any way.

For more information or assistance with a particular query, please in the first instance contact Adam Mikula on 020 7947 5354 or by email on adm@prospectlaw.co.uk.

For a PDF of this blog click here

post

THE IMPACT OF BREXIT ON ENERGY INDUSTRY BUSINESS: ISSUES AND CHALLENGES

BREXIT appears to have put everybody in a frenzy, not only over the form of the UK’s withdrawal but also its future relationship.  For energy industry businesses, irrespective of any political accommodation, the challenge in trading with the EU will be immeasurably different and more challenging from 30th March.

Procurement Opportunities

As we all know, Central Governments across the EU have considerable influence over their domestic energy producers, and consequently procurement opportunities are published and managed in accordance with the procedures of the Official Journal of the European Union.  Irrespective of any ‘deal’, being outside the EU will reduce the opportunities for UK businesses to successfully compete.  The natural priority will be to award contracts to those companies residing within the 27 Member States, before considering those outside of EU jurisdiction.

We have all heard the words that business requires ‘certainty’, and that ‘uncertainty’ is bad.  However, ‘change’ is the watchword of business, with businesses continually investigating market positioning and product development in order to beat the competitor.  BREXIT provides some short-term uncertainty, but the entrepreneurial businesses are already looking into the future to define those new ‘rules for success’.

Future Approach

The UK business model, which is perceived as more adversarial and aggressive than the ‘Latin’ relationship approach, may not be appropriate.  Whilst the UK cost and contract driven approach has commendable attributes, particularly over certainty of delivery, continuity of client relationship has a much lower value and relevance – it is just not ‘bankable’.

One thing that is patently obvious is that the UK approach into Europe will have to change, and change quickly, if trade is to be maintained and grow.  Partnership, and the development of local targeted subsidiary businesses employing a mixture of local and UK personnel, may be an appropriate approach.

These risks and challenges are real and overnight success will not be achieved.  There are many imponderables e.g. which state; a satellite office or partnership; a mirror image business or one that has potential to diversify; financial exposure and potential return; and finally integration of the different business cultures into a cohesive profitable entity.

Conclusion

The opportunities available to the energy industry are real, with the UK able to provide innovative approaches and solutions to its many challenges.  Energy security with diversity is seen as reducing risk potential, be it from adversarial political influence, the effect of climate change or just bad-luck due to a major system failure.

There is no ‘one-size fits all solution’ open to governments, project developers and financiers.  A fully open mind is required to explore the issues, challenges and propose workable solutions: this is the skill and expertise offered by the UK Business as it looks with excitement, tinged with trepidation, at our changing energy world.

About the Author

John Ireland is an internationally experienced energy specialist and senior business executive skilled in the development, negotiation, and management of businesses and technically complex contracts within both the Government and private sectors.  John, a Chartered Engineer and Fellow of the Institution of Chemical Engineers, has been Chief Engineer advising clients on nuclear new build in Romania and investigating opportunities in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Turkey, and Project Manager for the treatment and management of toxic and radio-toxic chemical wastes in the UK, Japan, and the EU.                                                   

Prospect Law is a multi-disciplinary practice with specialist expertise in the energy and environmental sectors with particular experience in the low carbon energy sector. The firm is made up of lawyers, engineers, surveyors and finance experts.

This article remains the copyright property of Prospect Law Ltd and Prospect Advisory Ltd and neither the article nor any part of it may be published or copied without the prior written permission of the directors of Prospect Law and Prospect Advisory.

This article is not intended to constitute legal or other professional advice and it should not be relied on in any way.

For more information or assistance with a particular query, please in the first instance contact Adam Mikula on 020 7947 5354 or by email on adm@prospectlaw.co.uk.

For a PDF of this blog click here

post

HOME OFFICE ANNOUNCES SUSPENSION OF TIER 1 (INVESTOR) VISAS

The Tier 1 (Investor) immigration route will be suspended until further notice from midnight on Friday 7 December, the Home Office announced last night.

These “golden” visas are granted to applicants who are able to show that they have at least £2 million to invest in the UK economy, and have proved very popular with wealthy overseas investors and high net worth individuals. Depending on the amount of money an applicant has to invest, they provide a relatively quick route to settlement and British citizenship.

The scheme will re-open for applications at some point in 2019, with major changes to the rules such as the removal of government bonds from the list of acceptable investments. Instead, applicants will need to invest in active and trading UK companies, and they will also be required to provide comprehensive audits of their financial and business interests.

These changes have come about after a government review of the visa as part of a crackdown on money laundering in the UK.  Immigration minister Caroline Nokes said:

The UK will always be open to legitimate and genuine investors who are committed to helping our economy and businesses grow. However, I have been clear that we will not tolerate people who do not play by the rules and seek to abuse the system….

That is why I am bringing forward these new measures which will make sure that only genuine investors, who intend to support UK businesses, can benefit from our immigration system.”

A statement of changes to the Immigration Rules is due to be laid before Parliament later today.

About the Author

Alice Boyle is a solicitor with extensive experience in all areas of immigration law. She has specialised in immigration since 2003, is accredited as a Senior Caseworker at Level 2 and a Supervisor under the Law Society’s Immigration accreditation scheme. Alice can assist both corporate and individual clients with any immigration, nationality or asylum matter. She has a sound understanding of Tier 1 Investors, Tier 1 Entrepreneurs and Tier 2 matters.

If you require any advice on these changes or other possible visa routes into the UK, please contact Alice Boyle on +44 (0)7775 902 935 or ajb@prospectlaw.co.uk.

Prospect Law is a multi-disciplinary practice with specialist expertise in the energy and environmental sectors with particular experience in the low carbon energy sector. The firm is made up of lawyers, engineers, surveyors and finance experts.

This article remains the copyright property of Prospect Law Ltd and Prospect Advisory Ltd and neither the article nor any part of it may be published or copied without the prior written permission of the directors of Prospect Law and Prospect Advisory.

This article is not intended to constitute legal or other professional advice and it should not be relied on in any way.

For a PDF of this blog click here

post

RECORD-BREAKING £1.5M PENALTY FOR “SLUMLORD MILLIONAIRE” WHO BUILT AN ILLEGAL BOXROOM BEDSIT EMPIRE ACROSS NORTH-WEST LONDON

Press Release, London Boroughs of Brent and Harrow, 5th December 2018

A notorious rogue landlord must pay £1,500,000 or spend nine years behind bars after justice caught up with him at Harrow Crown Court last Friday (30 November). The court found that Vispasp Sarkari had flouted planning rules for more than five years – converting properties across Brent and Harrow into substandard flats without planning permission.

Sarkari, 56, of Hawthorne Avenue, Harrow, had been cramming tenants into cramped and dangerous accommodation, charging them extortionate amounts in rent. His criminal enterprise included one property in Brent illegally converted into eight substandard box-room bedsits and four more similarly converted in Harrow.

He defied all planning enforcement warnings by both councils to stop the use of his properties and carried on with his criminal venture, raking in thousands of pounds from people desperate to have a roof over their head.

Cllr Tom Miller, Brent Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Safety, said:

“Slum landlords won’t be tolerated – plain and simple. If you ignore planning laws or leave tenants to languish in poor conditions, then we will find you, we will take action in court, and we will win. Anyone we find flouting planning or exploiting renters will feel a deep hole in their pockets after we’ve taken them to task.”

Sarkari was also separately fined £12,000 and ordered to pay both councils’ costs in full. It’s believed that he may have several further properties across the two boroughs, making him responsible for a significant proportion of illegal flat conversions and HMOs blighting North-West London.

Cllr Keith Ferry, Harrow Council’s cabinet member for planning, said:

“Justice means taking the ill-gotten gains off this slumlord millionaire. This is a man who thought he couldn’t be stopped. He was wrong, and thanks to our joint work with Brent Council, Sarkari’s criminal venture is finished.

But he’s not the only rackrent landlord out there, wrecking lives and ruining our boroughs by running illegal flats and HMOs. My message to the others is this: we’ll never stop, we’ll never give up, and when we catch you, we’ll punish you too.”

Extensive inquiries by both councils established the extent of Mr Sarkari’s criminal activity. Brent also secured a restraint order against Mr Sarkari, which means that he cannot dispose of his assets before the order is paid in full. If he doesn’t pay up, then the Council can force the sale of his properties.

In sentencing Mr Sarkari, Judge Wood described the breaches as “a flagrant abuse of the Town and Country Planning legislation”. She went on to thank everybody involved for their hard work in putting the case forward.

Harrow and Brent were represented by Counsel Mr Edmund Robb of Prospect Law, who said:

The Confiscation Order of almost £1.5 m which has been made in this case represents major recognition by the Crown Court of the personal misery and amenity damage which is caused by blatant and longstanding failures by developers to comply with planning enforcement notices issued by local authorities in London.”

Background Notes:

Mr Sarkari’s criminal lifestyle:

Mr Sarkari is no stranger to the courts. In 2012 a confiscation order under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 was made against him for £303,112.00 for exactly the same thing, flouting planning laws. Despite leaving the courts in 2012 with a hefty bill, he continued in the same vein, having no regard for the law, as he continued to flout planning laws and raked in large sums of cash from his unlawful enterprise by continuing to rent out the same properties which were in breach of planning enforcement notices in 2012. He did pay the order made in 2012 in full.

Mr Sarkari also has a string of previous convictions which relate to properties he rented out.

On 6th August 2008 at Harrow Magistrates Court, he was prosecuted for seven fire safety offences relating to a property on High Street, Wealdstone, contrary to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. He was fined £400 for each offence totalling £2,800.00 and ordered to pay costs totalling £7,746.00.

On 22nd September 2009 at Brent Magistrates Court, he was prosecuted under section 179 of the Town & Country Planning Act 1990 for failing to comply with an enforcement notice which related to another property he owned on London Road, Wembley. He was fined £5,000.00 and ordered to pay costs totalling £739.50.

During January 2015, he was prosecuted under regulation 36(4) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 by the Health & Safety Executive, for gas safety breaches at a property in London Road Wembley. He was fined £10,000.00, was ordered to perform 150 hours community service and was given a 12 month suspended sentence.

On 14th December 2017, he was prosecuted at Willesden Magistrates Court in relation to one of several properties he owns on London Road Wembley, HA9 7ET. This prosecution related to 6 offences for breaches of a selective licence that was issued by Brent Council and the breaches were contrary to section 95(2) of the Housing Act 2004. These breaches included fire safety hazards and a cockroach infestation. The defendant pleaded guilty and was fined £13,400.00 and ordered to pay £1,545.00 in costs.

About the Author

Brent Council Press Office – Karen Luke – Karen.Luke@brent.gov.uk 020 8937 1490

Harrow Council Press office – Masooma.sarwar@harrow.gov.uk 020 8420 9361

About Prospect Law Ltd

Prospect Law is a multi-disciplinary practice with specialist expertise in the energy and environmental sectors with particular experience in the low carbon energy sector. The firm is made up of lawyers, engineers, surveyors and finance experts.

This article remains the copyright property of Prospect Law Ltd and Prospect Advisory Ltd and neither the article nor any part of it may be published or copied without the prior written permission of the directors of Prospect Law and Prospect Advisory.

This article is not intended to constitute legal or other professional advice and it should not be relied on in any way.

For more information or assistance with a particular query, please in the first instance contact Adam Mikula on 020 7947 5354 or by email on adm@prospectlaw.co.uk.

Click here For a PDF of this press release

Please click here to see the Guardian’s coverage of this prosecution

Please click here for the Metro’s coverage

Please click here to see the Daily Mail’s coverage

Please click here to see the Local Government Lawyer’s coverage

post

REFLECTIONS ON THE EU-IRAN HIGH-LEVEL SEMINAR ON INTERNATIONAL NUCLEAR COOPERATION, 26-27 NOVEMBER 2018

We have previously commented on the Iran “nuclear deal”, more correctly known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and the potential consequences of the Trump Administration’s withdrawal from it some six months ago.  

JCPOA

We noted there that Iran had “shown off” its capability to enrich uranium to worrying quantities, pushing the boundaries of the agreement in a manner designed not only as a retaliatory statement against Israel and the US, but also the EU if it did not live up to its side of the bargain. The EU, along with China and Russia, remains a supporter of the deal.

That threat came a step closer this week with a statement by Ali Akbar Salehi, Vice President and head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, who stated that Iran may resume enriching uranium to 20 per cent, well above the level needed for civil nuclear power plants. In an interview with Reuters, Salehi mentioned that Iran is failing to see the economic benefits of the 2015 deal, adding:

If we cannot sell our oil and we don’t enjoy financial transactions, then I don’t think keeping the deal will benefit us anymore.”

Sanctions

Clearly, US sanctions imposed after their withdrawal from the agreement are having an effect and making it difficult for Iran to trade, even though the EU has announced its intention to create a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to “facilitate payments related to Iran’s exports (including oil) and imports, which will assist and reassure economic operators pursuing legitimate business with Iran”.

In the US context, it is worth noting that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) maintains that Iran is keeping its side of the agreement. In a statement to the IAEA’s Board of Governors on 22nd November, Director General Yamano stated: “Iran is implementing its nuclear-related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). It is essential that Iran continues to fully implement those commitments.”

EU-Iran Seminar

Ali Akbar Salehi’s statement was made ahead of the third EU-Iran High-level Seminar on International Nuclear Cooperation, held in Brussels on Monday and Tuesday of this week with the aim of building confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme. In the margins of the seminar, Vice President Salehi met with the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini.

Salehi and Mogherini re-affirmed their commitment to the continued full and effective implementation of the JCPOA, took stock of recent developments and expressed their determination to preserve the nuclear agreement as a matter of respecting international agreements and a key pillar for the European and regional security. During their meeting, Federica Mogherini also reiterated the EU position on issues of concern, such as Iran’s role in the region.

Future Activities

The seminar also identified a number of future joint activities related to the nuclear governance framework, as well as research and training relating to nuclear safety and radiation protection.

These activities will include:

  • the organisation of seminars on nuclear law and on reporting under the Joint Convention,
  • participation in key European nuclear stakeholder conferences
  • sharing of experience and methodology for performing nuclear stress-tests
  • enhanced collaboration in the field of R&D
  • a further package of safety related projects financed under the Instrument for Nuclear Safety Co-operation
  • organisation of a stakeholders’ conference to leverage international support for the establishment of the Nuclear Safety Centre.

Participants also agreed to continue to implement the agreed roadmap on R&D co-operation, including a joint project on radioactivity measurement capabilities.

The seminar reconfirmed the existing understanding that international nuclear co‑operation, and nuclear governance, are important elements that should be developed in parallel in order to optimise benefits for all sides.

The EU and Iran expressed satisfaction at progress achieved so far in the areas of nuclear co-operation and governance, and agreed to hold a follow-up high-level seminar in 2019. However, the success of that may depend on the success of the SPV.

About the Author

Prospect Law is a multi-disciplinary practice with specialist expertise in the energy and environmental sectors with particular experience in the low carbon energy sector. The firm is made up of lawyers, engineers, surveyors and finance experts.

This article remains the copyright property of Prospect Law Ltd and Prospect Advisory Ltd and neither the article nor any part of it may be published or copied without the prior written permission of the directors of Prospect Law and Prospect Advisory.

This article is not intended to constitute legal or other professional advice and it should not be relied on in any way.

For more information or assistance with a particular query, please in the first instance contact Adam Mikula on 020 7947 5354 or by email on adm@prospectlaw.co.uk.

Previous Articles

11th June 2018 Article about Iranian Uranium Enrichment

6th December 2016 Article about business in Iran, further to the lifting of sanctions

13th October 2016 Article about Dollar transactions with Iran

26th July 2016 Article about Iran’s quest for a credit rating

For a PDF of this blog click here

post

CREATING SHARED VALUE IN COMPLEX ENVIRONMENTS: PART IV

Part IV of this series will cover a company’s approach to the acquisition of land and negotiations about land compensation, as well as company contracting policies and the impact of these on company-community relations. There will also be an overview of the need to incorporate long term economic development strategies into community projects, and the need to use local contractors where possible.

Acquisition of Land

A company’s approach to the acquisition of land often becomes one of the earliest major issues to strain company-community relations. Rural people often value land for its cultural, and historic interest as much as for its commercial value. Land in this context is identity.

Negotiations about land compensation often need to focus on the meaning of land, rather than just a negotiation about its commercial price. Companies must acknowledge the implications of cultural attachment to land, and recognize that discussions about compensation will have a long term impact.

Compensation packages should not just be financial. In particular, efforts which help farmers increase their yield can work, especially if they also receive support when constructing a business plan. Compensation rates have to be consistent, and this might mean not paying anyone until everyone has agreed. Compensation payments must be made promptly, and assistance given with the management of any money handed over.

An inclusive approach is needed, with individual compensation packages taking a back seat to community based ones. Resettlement programmes require particularly high levels of assistance, including the reestablishment of networks. Transparency in all matters relating to compensation programmes is essential.

Contractor Behaviour

The vast majority of community challenges are caused by contractor behaviour. Local contractors tend to lose out to larger, international or urban based contractors. The staff of these outside contractors, rather than company staff, can be the first representatives of the company to engage with communities.

A company’s contracting policies can have a much larger and more lasting impact on the quality of company-community relations than most managers realize. The challenge is to use local contractors as much as possible, and there are various methods that can help achieve this.

  • Integrating local contractors into project design should begin from a project’s pre-feasibility stage;
  • the removal of bureaucratic and administrative obstacles
  • the providing of seed capital to Entrepreneurs;
  • Sustainability should be built into local content strategy;
  • Local content may be integrated into corporate management systems;

Effective contracting policies will result in fewer complaints about contractor behaviour, communities crediting the company with the provision of opportunities to local contractors, the

company receiving requests from local contractors for pre-qualification training, local contractors understanding why they did not obtain a contract, fewer force majure claims and local contractors reporting an increased ability to gain outside contracts.

Community Consultation and Negotiation

Three elements are essential to positive engagement:

  • Relationship;
  • Procedure;
  • Content

Relationship – The relationship needs to be respectful, and transparent.

Procedure – There needs to be clarity and agreement about the procedures of engagement.

Addressing all three elements will allow companies and communities to move towards common goals.

Respect and trust are high priorities for communities and created by effective community consultation. Indicators of effective community consultation may include the following:

  • people reporting that they feel listened to, and that the company takes their concerns seriously;
  • people reporting that the consultation process is respectful, participatory and inclusive;
  • minority groups reporting that their interests are represented;
  • both company and community say the other is their partner, not an opponent;
  • a lack of sabotage/strike action due to community unrest

Community Projects/Development 

As a basic guiding principle, community development should seek to build a portfolio of strategic programmes with long term economic development strategies, rather than making one-off, reactive investments. Delivery of strategic effect will be vital in terms of acquiring an effective Social License to Operate, as well as ensuring community support in the locality of mining operations.

There is no correlation between spending on community projects and the health of company community relations.  Getting community projects right requires, first of all, acceptance of the complex mix of economic and political factors involved in true sustainable development.

Clear objectives must be determined for community projects, with a strategy devised that links such objectives to the business case. Projects must form part of a business process that ensures programmes are aligned with corporate objectives – the Creation of Shared Value as directed by corporate HQ.

Unless projects are integrated into this strategy, there is a danger that they fragment and lose momentum, due to pressure from other stakeholders. Clarity on goals and strategies provides clarity about what communities can and cannot expect.

About the Author

Mark Jenkins advises clients on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), security and risk management issues affecting the viability of on and off-shore energy, mining and infrastructure sector projects in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Mark’s experience has been focussed on creating reliable community support for projects through the development of a Social License to Operate (SLO) based on effective CSR initiatives. The success of these initiatives has been based on a thorough understanding of local environmental, commercial, and cultural dynamics, especially Islamic ones.

Prospect Law is a multi-disciplinary practice with specialist expertise in the energy and environmental sectors with particular experience in the low carbon energy sector. The firm is made up of lawyers, engineers, surveyors and finance experts.

This article remains the copyright property of Prospect Law Ltd and Prospect Advisory Ltd and neither the article nor any part of it may be published or copied without the prior written permission of the directors of Prospect Law and Prospect Advisory.

This article is not intended to constitute legal or other professional advice and it should not be relied on in any way.

For more information or assistance with a particular query, please in the first instance contact Adam Mikula on 020 7947 5354 or by email on adm@prospectlaw.co.uk.

Click here to read Part I of this series

Click here to read Part II of this series

Click here to read Part III of this series

For a PDF of this blog click here