Banks' plea for exemption from environmental liability

The Government's Advisory Committee on Business and the Environment (ACBE) is expected shortly to recommend that there should be no fundamental reform of the existing regime of civil liability for environmental damage. And the banks and other lending institutions are to make a strong bid to be exempted from liability where they lend capital to polluters.

An outline of ACBE's thinking was given to a conference in Brussels on 20 November by Derek Wanless, Chief Executive of National Westminster Bank. He chairs ACBE's financial sector working group, which has almost completed its work on environmental liability. A final report is expected next year.

In his presentation, Mr Wanless focussed on the position of lenders in any new system of civil liability for environmental damage. This is most

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