28 January 2011

Trading Standards taking little action over the EPBD

LITTLE or no action is being taken to enforce the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, according to accreditation company Quidos. The regulations require that all air conditioning systems with an effective rated output of more than 12kW must be regularly inspected by an energy assessor.

In a survey of UK local authorities, Quidos found that 65 of the 177 authorities that responded had made no enquiries into EPBD compliance. A further 48 authorities had made less than 10 enquiries.

Quidos points out that £3.4m was provided by DCLG in 2008/09 to cover the costs of EPBD enforcement to local authorities in England and Wales. In the following years this was reduced to £1.9m per year. To date over £6m has been funded from the public purse to English and Welsh Local Authorities who have made enquiries of under 7,000 buildings in the past 3 years. Of these inspections 75% of them were conducted by just 14 separate TSOs.

A total of 23 penalty charge notices have been issued, which represents a lack of appetite to penalise rather than high rates of compliance. What enforcement that exists, is largely reactive rather than proactive, says Quidos.

With trading standards departments coming under financial constraints, Quidos recommends regionalising the enforcement to eight defined geographical areas with a small number of dedicated trading standard officers to enforce the EPBD regulations.

'This has been very successfully adopted in Northern Ireland, and should provide a model for England, Wales, and Scotland,' said Quidos md Philip Salaman.

In addition Quidos recommend the provision for private companies to be contracted by these regionalised TSOs to provide enforcement if required. Fines can be defined (and retained) by each region, with a maximum being imposed by DCLG.

Mr Salaman adds: 'In these austere times we all face, there needs to be an emphasis on cost cutting. Energy certification can provide that, since it highlights inefficiencies and ways to implement cost savings through reduced energy consumption. Local authorities should look to EPBD enforcement not only as a revenue generating exercise, but one in which to reduce energy consumption across their locality.'

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