The CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme (CRC) is coming to an end in 2019, as we transition to the new Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) regime that will apply to a much wider range of companies. Find out who will be impacted, and what’s involved.

On 1 April 2019, the new SECR framework will be introduced requiring additional carbon emissions, energy use and efficiency reporting by quoted companies, large private companies and large limited liability partnerships (LLPs).

The new reporting requirements will apply to financial years of companies starting on or after 1 April 2019. They will run alongside closure of the CRC from the end of the 2018/2019 compliance year (revenue lost from closure of the CRC will be recovered through an increase in the climate change levy).

We briefly outline below the key changes coming into play – for greater detail, please see the revised Environmental Reporting Guidelines published by the UK government. These are designed to help companies and LLPs comply with their obligations under the new regime and set out where and when they need to report.

Who will the new SECR regime apply to?

  • UK incorporated quoted companies;
  • UK incorporated "large" private companies;
  • UK incorporated "large" LLPs; and
  • Certain UK unregistered companies.

A "large" company or LLP is one which meets two or more of the following criteria within a financial year:

  • Annual turnover exceeding £36 million; and/or
  • Annual balance total exceeding £18 million; and/or
  • More than 250 employees.

Where a company or LLP moves across these thresholds in a financial year, smoothing provisions will apply.

What are the additional reporting requirements?

Chapter 2 of the revised Environmental Reporting Guidelines sets out in detail the additional reporting requirements imposed. These vary according to the type of entity involved and can involve reporting on:

  • Global energy use (for quoted companies)
  • UK energy use (for ‘large’ companies and LLPs)
  • Annual greenhouse gas emissions arising from the combustion of gas and transport fuels or from the purchase of electricity for business use
  • Intensity metrics (being a ratio expressing emission in relation to a quantifiable factor e.g. turnover, number of full-time employees or production volume)
  • Previous year's figures (if available)
  • Energy efficiency action taken
  • Methodology

We recommend referring first to the flowchart set out on page 32 of those guidelines, which guides you through the applicability of the new regime to your business.

Also, helpfully, the guidelines above include reporting templates (at pages 49 and 52) which organisations are strongly encouraged to use to facilitate consistency of disclosed information.

How do you report?

For a company, reporting will be through the directors' report, as part of the company's annual report. For LLPs, reporting will be through a new "energy and carbon report" (equivalent to a directors' report) for each financial year.

Are there any exemptions?

Yes, if the company or LLP uses 40,000 kWh or less of energy in the relevant financial year or if disclosure of energy usage would be "seriously prejudicial to the interests of the company". Statement(s) to this effect will need to be included in the directors' report or energy and carbon report.

There are also exemptions where a company or LLP is included in group reports (subject to certain conditions).

Although not strictly an exemption, note that disclosure is only required to the extent it is practical to obtain the SECR information. Where any such information is not included, the directors' report or energy and carbon report must detail this and give reasons why.

What if you form part of a group structure?

UK subsidiaries qualifying for SECR in their own right will not be required to report where they are covered by a UK parent's group report (subject to certain conditions). They can, however, report on a voluntary basis.

Where a parent company is not registered in the UK, any of its subsidiaries registered in the UK who qualify for SECR in their own rights will need to report.

Non-UK incorporated companies will not need to report as they are not required to file annual reports at Companies House.

If a LLP is a parent LLP and members of the LLP prepare group accounts, the energy and carbon report must be a consolidated (group) report.

Enforcement

Failure to prepare the necessary SECR disclosures and report on them will constitute a criminal offence punishable by a fine.

Next steps

Companies and LLPs need to assess whether they are likely to be captured by the new SECR regime and think through how they are going to collect the data required to ensure compliance.

This is only a brief overview of the proposed changes and we recommend seeking specific legal advice if your entity or group structure is likely to be caught by the new framework.

As with many recent and upcoming legislative changes, the SECR regime seeks to impose and ensure greater corporate accountability and social responsibility on UK business entities.

The SECR regime will run alongside the existing Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS). The UK government has indicated that it will review how the SECR framework will interact with ESOS following completion of its evaluation of the impact and effectiveness of the first phase of ESOS.