Environment Agency extends ESOS deadline
Businesses that fail to meet the December deadline to comply with the Government's new Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) may be granted a reprieve until at least the end of January, the Environment Agency (EA) has confirmed.
An announcement on Thursday specified that ESOS-affected companies that have demonstrated a plan to comply with the policy and are making progress as of the 5 December 2015 audit deadline will be given an extension until 29 January 2016 to become fully ESOS-compliant.
This provides businesses with a new ultimate deadline of 29 April, with penalties only being served in the worst of cases for non-compliance three months after 29 January. In addition, those organisations looking to implement ISO50001 for their ESOS compliance will be given until 30 June to comply.
The announcement comes amid fears that the majority of affected businesses were unlikely to meet the original 5 December deadline. As of today (9 October), just 375 businesses have completed the process – less than 3% of the total number of organisations obliged to sign up – while the number of ESOS Lead Assessor’s remains too low to serve such a large number of organisations.
ESOS requires all companies 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.
Companies that fail to complete their audits – which must be carried out by qualified assessors - could face a basic fine of £50,000 plus £800 a day capped at a maximum of 80 days.
Sam Davidson, the head of consultancy services at Utilitywise, welcomed the announcement, adding: “Utilitywise is very pleased to see that the recommendations we have voiced over the past few months are mirrored in the actions which the Environment Agency have been taken on board.
“It’s encouraging that officials will bear with businesses that are actively making strides to comply and can evidence progress of their compliance journey on 5 December. It is also welcoming to see that these businesses will not be subject to the legislated penalties.
“Be aware, though, if your organisation cannot comply fully by 5 December, 2015, you will still need to inform the Environment Agency of this. Details surrounding how to do this will be announced soon by the Environment Agency.”
Wayne Mitchell, director of markets and innovation for Npower Business Solutions, said: “The EA’s new guidelines relating to ESOS compliance is telling, with a significant number of companies failing to even start their audits.
“Whilst we support the ambitions that lie behind ESOS, our independent research revealed earlier this year that 49% of British manufacturers weren’t even aware of the scheme. Businesses are likely to breathe a sigh of relief at the extension, but more needs to be done if ESOS is to form the base for a single reporting framework, as suggested in the Treasury’s recent Business energy tax consultation.”