Firms cough up to go green

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To look at the battles between road protesters and Costain and between Greenpeace and Shell over Brent Spar, one would think that business and environmentalists were inevitable enemies, writes Roger Trapp. Yet, according to a survey by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, firms are increasingly concerned with environmental issues.

Sixty-two per cent of financial directors and controllers say that compliance with regulations designed to protect the environment is increasing costs and 77 per cent say that environmental issues will be of increasing concern to their business. However, only 5 per cent say that environmental issues should not be their concern, and more than 60 per cent do not believe that the Government is putting too much of the burden on them.

The survey, the sixth twice-yearly survey of business costs organised by Cima, also discovered that information technology topped the table of rising costs. Sixty-four per cent of the 501 financial directors and controllers surveyed said the cost of IT had risen by more than average.

In addition, crime prevention, health and safety compliance and meeting European Union regulatory requirements were all pushing up costs. One finance manager claimed his company had spent "pounds 750,000 complying with EU regulations on paint alone".

The survey, carried out by The Harwood Company, also discovered concern about future skill shortages. One in three respondents to the survey believes his or her business is being adversely affected by them, while just over a half believe that they will worsen over the next five years.

Opinion on whether the Government should be responsible for raising training standards is split roughly half and half.