In September, the Environment Agency revealed the list of penalties imposed on companies non-compliant with the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS).
The Environment Agency (EA) has tried to minimise punitive action, preferring to offer firms every possible chance to meet the ESOS regulations without resorting to fines.
But although these have now been levied, the maximum levels of punishment, potentially running into the hundreds of thousands of pounds, remain unused.
Who’s who in the EA list?
Some household names feature among companies hit with fines. They include Ebay (UK) Ltd, which is faced with a £12,150 fine.
Gumtree also gets a £12,150 fine. However this is not the top fine the EA has chosen to impose.
Amdocs (UK) Ltd faces the biggest punitive measure, with a fine of £45,000 levied.
In total, the complete sum owed by 15 firms to the EA is £157,770.
Fines in context; the analysis
All the non-compliant firms failed to meet ESOS Regulation 46(1), which enables the regulator to levy fines when firms fail to provide information, or to take steps, required by a compliance notice, an enforcement notice or a penalty notice.
In plain English, this means the firms not only failed to get the EA their ESOS details for initial deadlines, but also failed to take action to remedy the problem.
The complete list of fined companies is available online, and whilst the EA hasn’t chose to name and shame loudly, the reputational risk that was always an element of ESOS appears to have come true for some.
That said, a total of 15 offenders, to date at least, appears a reasonable result for the regulator. In June 2017, the EA revealed that about 1,500 organisations under EA jurisdiction might qualify for the ESOS scheme but had so far failed to engage.
The EA then revealed that, “All investigation work is now complete and we have confirmed that around 500 of these organisations do qualify for the scheme. To date, we have served over 300 enforcement notices to bring these organisations into compliance and will continue to serve enforcement notices during the present financial year.”
So, out of all those 500 firms, (and remember an estimated 10,000 in total were affected by ESOS overall), only 15 have ultimately faced a financial penalty to bring them up to speed.
That’s a startling statistic that illustrates the vast majority of affected companies complied within reasonable limits. And £157,770 does not represent a major benefit to government coffers either. So the approach is evident; ESOS can ultimately hit businesses in the pocket, but its intention is to drive energy efficiency, not punitive income.
Sharing the list proves the regulator is prepared to see fines through on ESOS. But the low percentages of firms involved also proves UK companies are, by and large, happy to comply with the requirements.
The regulator’s reluctance to apply the maximum fines legally available also points to an attitude that’s leveraged for energy efficiency and sustainability, not endless court cases.
Perhaps in ESOS Phase 2, ongoing and improved communications work can translate UK firms’ evident willingness to comply into on-the-ground energy efficient installations and investments.
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