Society - Drax
Positive social impact

Our contribution to the community takes many forms, from our direct role in areas in which we operate as a major employer, to charitable donations and the time our employees spend volunteering for local causes. We also contribute to communities by paying fair taxes and being transparent in our accounting practices.

Our approach

Drax Group is committed to making a positive social impact in the local communities in which we operate.

Our local stakeholders expect us to operate responsibly and promote local development, growth and employment. To ensure we are meeting these expectations, we are in constant dialogue with our local communities.

We meet regularly with local officials to listen to any concerns they may have and to keep them up to date on recent developments and future plans. Where required, we conduct public outreach and consultation for proposed projects.

In 2017 we conducted 18 outreach sessions with local, regional and national officials, as well as the communities living in proximity to our proposed gas projects across the UK. This forms part of a comprehensive programme of planned local consultation and engagement that is designed to share our options with the public and listen to their views.

Local value creation

In 2017 we commissioned Oxford Economics to produce a report that analyses Drax’s economic footprint across the UK. The findings highlight the crucial role Drax plays in supporting the economy in the North of England. Drax contributed £419 million to the Yorkshire and Humber economy in 2016 and supported over 6,000 jobs across the North of England, supporting employment in a wide range of sectors, including high-skilled manufacturing of industrial components, engineering and technical machinery, construction, IT, professional business services and transport.

Our Group has an impact beyond the “Northern Powerhouse” and contributes a sizeable economic impact in the regions where Haven Power and Opus Energy are located. Their operations across the East Midlands, East of England, South East and Wales had a direct and indirect impact of £633 million on gross domestic product in 2016.

Job creation

Drax Group creates employment opportunities in all the areas where we operate. We directly employed a total of 2,558 people in 2017. Researchers at Oxford Economics estimate that, based on Drax’s operations in the energy sector and its use of British businesses across its supply chain, Drax contributed £1.67 billion to the economy and supported 18,500 UK jobs in 2016.

Local recruitment is important to us. Opus Energy works with a network of education providers in Northampton to recruit local talent for apprenticeships in business administration and its graduate programme in the areas of risk management and IT.

In the United States, our business activities have helped to revitalise communities which have lost jobs in traditional industries, such as pulp and paper. Our Pellet Production business supports local landowners through steady and dependable demand for their low-grade wood. Without such a market, much of this low-grade timber might be under-utilised. As well as the silvicultural benefits that our market brings, it also helps to sustain loggers, hauliers, tree-planters, tree nurseries and other local businesses that either directly or indirectly provide services to us.


£1.67bn

Drax Group’s total GDP contribution in 2016

£872m

Drax Group’s spending with UK suppliers during 2016

18,500

Supported jobs in 2016


 

Paying tax responsibly

 

Our tax strategy reflects our understanding of the fact that public policy on taxation and the entire tax environment is changing. This is also reflected in our compliance framework, “Doing the Right Thing”.

We take a responsible approach to managing our tax affairs and we will always comply with applicable tax laws and regulations in the countries in which we operate. In 2017 we paid taxes of more than £150 million. These included taxes on our profits, taxes on our workforce, taxes levied for burning fossil fuels as well as environmental taxes. This figure excludes VAT.

Education and skills programmes

Our social impact is closely aligned with our business priorities and focuses primarily on the development of skills and STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) outreach education.

Our business relies on the expertise and experience of highly skilled workers from STEM-related fields. There is a STEM skills shortage in the UK and we see the transforming energy market as an opportunity to work with institutions at all levels to deliver the necessary skills to change the way energy is generated, supplied and used in the future.

Promoting skills and education

Drax has a long tradition of supporting education and helping children develop their STEM skills. In 2017, our Visitor Centre launched a programme of school outreach, bringing Drax into classrooms across the UK with the aid of an inflatable cinema dome. Using a combination of animation and drone footage, the dome allows schoolchildren to experience a virtual 360-degree tour of the power station and explains the journey that our biomass pellets take from North America.

One way that Haven Power engages with the community is by supporting local schools. In 2017, a team from Haven Power visited a local primary school to run a “Maths in the Real World” session about how maths is applied in everyday life. Haven Power employees also supported a “Learning About Work” day at another local school during the year.

At Opus Energy, the dedicated Early Careers team work hand-in-hand with schools in the local community, helping to prepare students for the world of work. Career workshops are held annually where students can get feedback on their CV, try out mock interviews and hone life skills that prepare them for their futures. In 2017, three of these schools – Moulton School & Science College, Northampton College and Northampton Academy – have rolled up their sleeves to adorn the walls of the new Opus Energy headquarters with their own artwork, giving them a behind-the-scenes look at the workplace of a modern energy supplier.

For information on Drax apprenticeships and graduate schemes, see People.

Visitors to Drax

We welcomed 13,200 visitors to Drax Power Station in 2017, where our tours are focused on the learning outcomes for the National Curriculum and tailored for guests of all ages.

The Skylark Centre and Barlow Mound are open to the public and regularly offer experiences for schoolchildren to learn about nature and ecology. Free outdoor events are organised throughout the year for families involving science-based challenges.


13,200

Visitors to Drax Power Station

5,200

People reached through our outreach programme


 

Investing in local charities and projects

At Drax Group, we focus our charitable support on the communities where we operate. Our businesses have strong links to local communities and support local projects through fundraising, partnerships and volunteering.

Our Haven Power employees are encouraged to spend one working day each year as a volunteer with charities and projects in Ipswich. In 2017, 112 employees used their volunteer day. Each year, employees vote for the charity they want to support and the Eden-Rose Coppice Trust was selected as the Charity of the Year for 2017. Haven Power set a fundraising target of £8,500 for the Trust. Employees achieved that target ahead of schedule in September 2017 and were able to raise a total of £9,732.

Similar community investment activities took place across all our businesses. Drax Biomass sponsored a weekend community clean-up event with the local volunteer group Keep Morehouse Beautiful in March and made a donation to the American Red Cross in support of the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. Opus Energy fundraises for selected charities and continues to sponsor local, Northamptonshire-based athletes.

Looking ahead
  • Strengthen our Group-wide approach to creating positive social impact