According to the Government, the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) will enable companies to identify opportunities to save money on energy bills through improved energy-efficiency and could benefit the UK by £1.9bn.

The scheme, which is now open for public consultation, is seen by the Government as a way of meeting the requirements of Article 8 of the EU Energy Efficiency Directive.

Under the proposals, all large enterprises in the UK will be required to undertake energy efficiency audits by December 2015 and every four years thereafter.

In a statement Energy Minister Greg Barker said: “In developing this consultation document, officials in my department have worked closely with colleagues across Government and with industry experts.

“Our proposals aim to provide for a proportionate and better regulated approach, with the objective of yielding net benefits for the UK as a result of additional energy saving.”

The manufacturers’ association EEF cautiously welcomed the proposals but said that manufacturers were already successfully improving energy efficiency and warned that it would be unfair to burden energy-intensive sectors with restrictive targets.

EEF head of climate and environment Gareth Stace said: “Ministers and officials should not ignore what manufacturers are already doing to address the issue of energy efficiency, which is both effective and valuable.

“In the last 20 years, UK manufacturers have reduced their emissions by nearly 40%. As an industry we know the importance of energy efficiency in maintaining the competitiveness of UK manufacturing.

Stace added: “Any final proposals must take into account the significant differences between targeted sectors, that is commercial, industry and energy intensive sectors. A one-size- fits-all solution will not deliver cost effective improvements in energy efficiency in the manufacturing sector – rather it will create more unwelcome red tape in an already over-regulated and crowded area of policy.”

The consultation will close on October 3 and the Government intends to bring forward secondary legislation in spring 2014 so that the UK can meet the June 5 2014 EU Energy Efficiency Directive deadline.

Conor McGlone

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