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Environment Agency relaxes ESOS penalty rules

The Environment Agency (EA) has extended penalty rules under the Government’s Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) by an extra ten weeks.

The move gives non-SMEs, who are not ISO 150001 compliant, an extended grace period to get ESOS compliant.

Richard Metcalfe, sales director at ICS Cool Energy, said: “The news follows rumours that just a fraction of the obligated companies have submitted audits in advance of the current 5 December 2015 deadline, after which financial sanctions were due to be enforced.

“It is understood that companies now have until 29 January 2016 to submit an audit – as long as they inform officials via an official form on the Environment Agency website.”

In a statement, the Environment Agency said that while it cannot extend the official compliance deadline, it can relax penalty rules to give companies more time to comply. It is understood that non-compliance can see businesses risk fines of up to £50,000, making this latest announcement all the more welcome.

MR Metcalfe added: “Whilst the scheme requires obligated companies to audit 90 per cent of the energy consumption, there are currently no measures in place to enforce any subsequent changes – but here lies the opportunity.

“Ultimately, ESOS is there to help companies easily identify areas where they can make improvements and help contribute to a greener and cleaner environment. Poor temperature management can result in thousands of pounds being unnecessarily spent on utility bills each year, not to mention the increased associated emissions.

“The Environment Agency has given those non-ISO 150001 compliant companies a lifeline but this shouldn’t be taken lightly. Remember if you can’t comply by 5 December it is important to contact the Environment Agency immediately as by not doing so, you are in breach of the regulation. The statement highlighted that enforcement action ‘will not normally be taken’ provided compliance (an audit) is conducted and submitted by 29 January 2016.”

The Environment Agency plans to publish an online form on its website before 5 December and will issue an email to alert people that the form is now available. To be added to the mailing list email esos@environment-agency.gov.uk.

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