ESOS: 99% of businesses still not compliant as deadline looms

The Environment Agency insists it is doing all it can to raise awareness of the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS), despite just 1% of affected companies submitting audits ahead of the impending deadline.

A Freedom of Information request carried out by resource management firm Veolia has revealed that only 150 companies out more than 10,000 have carried out energy efficiency audits, which are required under ESOS by 5 December.

Companies that fail to complete their audits – which must be carried out by qualified assessors – face a basic fine of £50,000, plus £800 a day capped at a maximum of 80 days. Veolia estimates that UK companies could be heading for total fines north of £900m if they fail to comply.

“Even with the push to inform businesses, it seems almost impossible that thousands of businesses will have their audits in on time,” said Veolia’s chief operating officer of industrial customers Pat Gilroy.

“Part of the problem is that there is a colossal shortfall in the number of qualified auditors – an issue that is likely to get worse as the deadline approaches.”

Awareness campaign

Despite the shortfall, the Environment Agency remains confident that ESOS awareness is continuing to rise, with the organisation providing guidance and help for businesses through a series of letters, emails, events and webinars.    

The Agency’s ESOS project manager Jo Scully told edie: “The feedback we have received from businesses shows that awareness of the scheme has risen but organisations still have work to do in order to comply.

“In response to this, we sent out a reminder letter to 14,000 businesses urging them to take action and we will be sending out another letter in October as well as launching an email campaign specifically targeting businesses with fewer than 500 employees.

“We have also been raising awareness by holding workshops, producing a regular newsletter, publishing guidance on our website and setting up a dedicated helpdesk.”

Return on investment

ESOS requires all ‘large undertakings’ with more than 250 employees or a turnover of more than €50m to produce detailed reports on their energy use and efficiency every four years. Lead assessors will carry out an energy audit, paid for by the business, but there is no obligation to implement any of the efficiency measures identified. Read our full explanation of the scheme here

The 10,000+ businesses affected by ESOS are facing total assessment costs estimated at £165m, but both Veolia and the Environment Agency agree that the resulting financial benefits of implementing energy efficiency improvements will massively outweigh the costs of administrating the scheme. 

“Not only are these companies risking fines, they are also missing out on the chance to reduce overheads by cutting their energy bills,” added Gilroy. “I urge companies to pay attention to this warning and arrange their audits today to help save precious resources and improve carbon performance.”

Luke Nicholls

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