Freight transport sector challenges Gov’s energy audit proposal

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has expressed concerns over the "financial burden" of the Government's proposed introduction of energy audits for large UK companies.

As part of the EU Energy Efficiency Directive, large companies will be required to conduct energy audits every four years, with the first being called for by December 5 2015.

The audits will cover transport, buildings and industrial operations and will be the first time that transport, including commercial vehicles, has come under scope of a UK energy/carbon reporting scheme.

The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is currently consulting on the UK’s approach to the Directive requirements and has announced the Energy Opportunities Saving Scheme (ESOS).

Businesses including own-account operators and third party logistics companies will be required to undertake accredited ESOS assessments where recommendations will be made on how they can further reduce energy usage.

Although the assessments will be mandatory, there will be no legal requirement to implement the recommendations.

FTA’s climate change policy manager, Rachael Dillon, said: “Reducing energy usage and carbon emissions should be an important part of any company’s strategy as in the long run it can reduce costs.

“If Government must proceed with the introduction of energy audits to adhere to EU obligations, it must work with the grain of industry. Otherwise, we simply end up with a time consuming and financially burdensome scheme,” added Dillon.

According to the consultation’s Impact Assessment, it will cost the average road haulier £23,000 to conduct an energy audit.

The FTA says that fuel makes up around 40% of a haulier’s operating costs which it adds is already a “huge incentive” to reduce energy.

Backing the voluntary drive of reducing energy, the FTA manages the Logistics Carbon Reduction Scheme, which records, reports and reduces carbon emissions from freight transport.

According to the association, this has already demonstrated the benefits of a voluntary led approach to reducing energy usage.

“It is questionable how much further progress Energy Audits will bring towards making industry more efficient,” the FTA states.

The ESOS will sit alongside the existing Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) covering large non-energy intensive companies and mandatory greenhouse gas reporting obligations for quoted companies which comes into force in October 2013.

Dillon added: “We are concerned about the financial burden that the ESOS will place on industry coupled with a myriad of policies which creates confusion and duplication, it is therefore essential that DECC seeks to take as simplified approach as possible.

“In particular, FTA welcomes the acknowledgement of existing standards such as ISO14001 which will be accredited as part of the ESOS. However, the details of exactly how commercial vehicle fleets will be audited remains woolly,” said Dillon.

The FTA announced that it will be responding to DECC’s consultation on the requirements for freight operators.

Leigh Stringer

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