The Content Coms analysis: EA kicks off ESOS enforcement

After a period of leniency, it looks as if the Environment Agency (EA) is ready to start punching hard on ESOS compliance.

In its latest newsletter, the EA says that following the grace period to 29 January 2016, it is now looking at corporate data to identify those organisations that should be participating in ESOS.

‘This has led the scheme regulators (EA, SEPA, NIEA, NRW and DECC Offshore) to investigate 1700 organisations who we believe may be required to participate in ESOS, but have not yet made any submission,’ the EA revealed. ‘1500 of these fall within the EA remit.’

The EA also announced it is running a dedicated ESOS Enforcement Team, that is, ‘Initially targeting those organisations deemed to be highest risk, and we have already issued a number of compliance and enforcement notices.’

The EA’s enforcement framework and overall approach

The EA uses a framework for escalating its enforcement response. Under this, it normally uses enforcement notices to bring organisations into compliance, and serves civil penalties only in the most serious cases.

There is no reason to predict any heightening of punitive civil penalties. Remember, the EA’s aim is to achieve energy efficiency, not to operate lengthy and costly prosecutions against firms who should be getting on with day to day business.

There will however always be laggards. It’s to be hoped the EA’s tacit warning to these will be heard. Further, there appears to be more work needed even among firms who had seemingly complied.

Some 65% of organisations whose ESOS compliance the EA checked were found to, ‘Pass with remedial actions.’ This, seemingly, is a polite way of saying their compliance was lacking in key areas.

Firms mostly made audit errors on organisational structure, board sign off and energy profiling. It may be concerning that organisational structure tops the list. This could, though the EA doesn’t explicitly say this, mean firms are misrepresenting the extent of their operational structure, to minimise the compliance work they have to do.

ESOS; an energy efficient future

“At Content Coms, we are delighted to see ESOS entering into its later stages; whereby genuine energy efficiency improvements are made,” said Esther Griffin, Account Director, Content Coms.

“We are experts on green-tech marketing. Therefore, we know how vital ESOS compliance is, not just for a firm’s internal carbon and cost savings, but for how their brand is perceived externally.

“We implore all UK firms to work hard on the last stages of ESOS compliance, and build the low carbon UK of tomorrow. Energy efficient futures are within our grasp.”

The EA says it will be working with external contractors, to carry out further compliance checks from August 2016 to March 2017. Content Coms will provide regular updates on the progression and achievements of the ESOS scheme.

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