Recent bad publicity for the Environment Agency could influence how new fines are applied to businesses and make organisations reassess their attitudes towards energy use.
From 2016 the Environment Agency (EA) will look to recover their operating costs of £10m through the enforcement of the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme and subsequent fines on large organisations.
From the beginning of February the Environment Agency will, therefore, be hunting businesses who have not submitted a notification of compliance with the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme. Those organisations will be liable for enforcement action: publication of their failings and fines of up to £100,000 depending on the severity of their deficiencies.
The EA’s enforcement campaign comes at a low point in the history of the organisation with the recent resignation of their Caribbean-loving Chairman, Philip Dilley, following the recent floods from Storms Desmond, Eva and Frank.
Although it’s debatable whether the embattled regulator will change the application of ESOS enforcement action, the recent adverse publicity could influence the public narrative on the merits of the scheme.
For example, some people may focus on the extent of the fines (if there is an aggressive approach to raise revenues) and the lack of action required by businesses: the truth is there is no requirement to save energy within the ESOS itself. And the legislation is no less the direct result of an EU Directive.
Alternatively, others may focus on the lack of fines (if there is a relaxed approach) and the costs to participating businesses: the cost of the ESOS, phase 1 was estimated at £400m. What further impact would there be to the EA’s credibility if they let environmental transgressors off the hook while costing UK businesses £400m in times of austerity?
The reason the public narrative is important is that the benefits of the ESOS (estimated at £2.8bn) will be achieved by people within organisations and their attitudes will be crucial in realising those benefits. It is critical that the ESOS is used to challenge large companies to, not only make their businesses more productive, but also help to mitigate the impacts (including flooding) of climate change.
For more information on how to tackle energy within your organisation please contact Iain Fraser to discuss how Greengage can help improve your energy productivity.