Responding to a Freedom of Information request submitted by edie earlier this month, the Environment Agency's ESOS project manager Jo Scully revealed that 4,242 out of the circa 10,000 eligible companies were fully compliant with the scheme as of last Friday (8 January), ahead of the revised deadline of 29 January. This compares to approximately 4,000 companies that the Agency previously announced were ESOS-compliant by the initial submission deadline of 5 December.
In her Freedom of Information request response, Scully also revealed that the Environment Agency had received 2575 notifications of ‘intent to comply’ with ESOS as of 8 January. However, 232 of these organisations have now submitted their notification of compliance so, in effect, 2,343 are outstanding and should submit their notification of compliance in due course. According to those figures, the total compliance rate for ESOS by the 29 January deadline would stand at 6,585 - around two thirds of all qualifying companies - pending any additional submissions from organisations that haven’t yet notified the Environment Agency of their intent to do so.
The Agency will therefore be hoping for a flurry of late submissions, similar to that seen for the original deadline last month. At that point, Scully said she was pleased with the compliance rate and had received “some good feedback on the benefits that compliance can bring”.
Scully has previously confirmed that any organisation covered by the scheme that submits a notification of compliance after 29 January risks ‘enforcement action’. When asked for information on exactly what this enforcement action would be, Scully responded: “Each non-compliance will be considered on a case-by-case basis, in accordance with our published enforcement approach.” The Agency's official document on enforcement and sanctions details that the maximum penalty for failing to undertake an energy audit ahead of the compliance deadline is up to £50,000 and up to £500 for each working day the responsible undertaking remains in breach of the mandatory scheme, for a maximum of 80 working days.
But the document also states that civil penalties will normally be used only in the most serious cases and that, for the first compliance period and new entrants in subsequent compliance periods, the Agency would normally allow up to three months to remedy the failure before issuing any fines, meaning that the ultimate deadline would be 29 April.
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.
The 10,000+ businesses affected by ESOS are facing total assessment costs estimated at £165m, but the resulting financial benefits of implementing energy efficiency improvements could massively outweigh the costs of administrating the scheme.
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