The Environment Agency has unofficially pushed back the deadline by which it wants to see all large UK companies complying with the EU’s Energy Savings Opportunities Scheme (ESOS).
ESOS-related regulations insist that businesses around the country with more than 250 employees or £40 million in annual turnover should complete an approved energy efficiency audit, with an initial deadline for compliance set for December 5th 2015.
However, with thousands of British companies apparently struggling to carry out these audits in time, the Environment Agency has said it does not now intend to issue fines for non-compliance if businesses can present details of their ‘green audits’ by January 29th 2016.
However, while the unofficial pushing back of the agency’s deadline gives large UK companies an extra two months to complete audits of their energy use, those that remain non-compliant and cannot show progress towards compliance can still expect to be fined at some point next year.
The Environment Agency has explained that the regulations relating to ESOS compliance cannot be changed but that it will not be issuing fines if companies communicate beforehand that they expect to miss the December 5th deadline and then demonstrate compliance before the end of January.
“The regulations have not changed, this is about giving organisations clarity about how we will look to enforce them,” a spokesperson for the agency said in a statement.
“Organisations that believe they cannot comply fully by 5 December 2015 will need to inform us of this by the same date via an online portal, giving information on why they have been unable to comply and when they expect to submit their notification of compliance. We will be issuing an online form to do this in due course.
“Where an organisation submits a notification after 29 January 2016 the situation will be reviewed on a case by case basis.”
Further statements explained that the Environment Agency would “look more favourably” on companies that are still non-compliant next year but which can show that they’ve booked a lead ESOS assessor and started to gather relevant data and to assess the energy efficiency of sites they operate.
The government-backed body has also emphasised the point that it expects companies that comply with ESOS regulations to save millions of pounds annually by reducing the scale of their energy use.