Category Archive: Energy

Businesses Urged To Combat Energy Price Hikes

With energy prices becoming increasingly volatile, businesses across the regions are being urged to consider onsite energy and heat generation to save money, while also protecting natural resources.

Andrew Rollo, Head of Energy at George F. White, said: “Subsidies are reducing while energy costs are rising. The government FIT scheme for wind turbines is currently fully subscribed and grants for technologies such as solar have been greatly reduced over the past three to four years. This has dramatically reduced the attractiveness of projects which create and export energy.”


“At the same time, purchasing energy is more expensive than ever for businesses across all sectors. Onsite generation can create power for as little as 3p per kWh, which is why looking into generating your own power or heat is an essential element in forward planning for businesses.”

There are several technologies that can protect businesses against the volatility of the energy market, including ground source heat pump systems which provide good returns for those firms currently using fossil fuels to provide heat for processes, working environments and storage spaces. There are other initiatives that help shift consumption away from peak periods such as the emerging battery storage market and Demand Side Response Scheme. These are available at zero capital cost; the investment being made by a third party with benefits being shared between developer and consumer. When businesses generate their own power, they can effectively fix their energy cost for up to 25 years, which not only creates huge savings but also enables effective long term financial planning.

Andrew added: “We work independently with a wide range of businesses that consume large amounts of energy or heat, helping them to identify and deliver sustainable energy initiatives that will benefit their bottom line. We perform feasibility studies which enable clients to understand the specific benefits of the project and any associated risks before embarking on a particular energy project. Once an initiative is under way, we work closely with the client, offering a turn-key service to take the project from initial feasibility to final commissioning. On completion of the project, we can then manage the asset appropriately to optimise efficiency and ensure its profitability and longevity.”

To find out more about alternative energy initiatives and how and why they can work for your business, please contact Andrew Rollo on  or 07545 920905.

Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) Changes: what you need to know and why

Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) Changes: what you need to know and why

This month, we are focusing on the changes in MEES legislation, which were effective from April 1. Here, our Residential Lettings Consultant, Simon Harrison and Senior Project Manager, Rob Hamilton answer some key questions…


In a nutshell, what’s changing?

“It’s now law to ensure a property that’s let out, for residential or commercial use, must meet a Minimum Efficiency Standard,” explains Simon. “A sub-standard property is one that fails to meet an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of E.”

“EPCs have always come with a list of recommendations to help you improve the energy efficiency of your property.” adds Rob. “Until now, there has been no policy to enforce these changes, meaning the EPC was only advisory. However, this is no more. The new MEES regulations mean landlords will be unable to let out a property, or renew an existing tenancy or lease, if the property fails to meet the E rating. Those landlords with properties with an F or G rating will have to carry out improvement works, benefiting the property’s utility costs, the tenant, and the environment.”

How does this affect landlords of residential and commercial property?

“It affects them quite seriously,” says Rob. “A tenanted property cannot be lawfully re-let to new or existing tenants until sufficient measures are taken to improve the performance of the building to an EPC rating E or above. There are instances when the building may be exempt from these regulations; such as if the building is listed, or a temporary structure, but it is always best to check with a qualified assessor.”

“If a landlord does let out a home or business premise that is rated below the minimum standard,” explains Simon, “Then they will face civil and criminal charges for signing a new tenancy or renewing an existing one. Given that one in 10 privately rented properties currently fail to meet the new efficiency rules it’s important that landlords seek advice and are guided through the changes so that it doesn’t negatively impact their investments.”

Putting yourself in the shoes of a North East landlord, what would you be doing now?

“I would be definitely checking my current EPC to make sure it is E rated or above and speaking to my current letting agent to find out how they can help and support me through this change, in the best way for my interests,” said Simon. “Yes, I agree,” states Rob. “I would initially be checking that I have current EPCs available for all of my properties; EPCs are valid for 10 years from issue. You are then able to highlight which of your properties may be affected. In fact, in many cases, ensuring that the original information that was used to carry out the assessment was accurate, can bring the EPC rating up without having to carry out any remedial works to the property.”

If I was a landlord that hadn’t thought about this issue or looked into it, what would you suggest I do as a priority?

“I’d probably speak to a local ARLA letting agent to seek guidance on what I should be doing to ensure that I don’t accidentally fall foul of the new legislation,” explains Simon. “Yes, that’s right, I would contact a qualified property consultant or perhaps an EPC assessor to fully understand my obligations under the new ruling,” said Rob. “Penalties for non-compliance range up to a maximum of £150,000, which is pretty huge, so it’s essential that your property is let in line with the new regulations.”

On the whole, what’s the current situation like with landlords you’re working with about the changes? Are they quite prepared or are you having to do lots of work with them?

It’s quite worrying, actually, the number of commercial landlords that are not aware that these regulations are being introduced,” expresses Rob, frankly. “George F. White is working with landlords across residential and commercial sectors about the new law, so we’re really well placed to assist landlords in ensuring their compliance, whether that’s carrying out new EPCs, scrutinising their existing EPC, or consulting on necessary remedial works.”

“On the residential side,” explains Simon, “We’ve been speaking to all landlords who are at risk of flouting the new laws and, working very closely and transparently with them, we have developed a tailored plan specific to their portfolio and investments. This has involved either organising a new EPC, arranging a Green Deal Assessor visit, or registering exemptions where applicable. Now really is the time to switch focus to the new energy efficiency laws and ensure you’re not doing anything illegal that can result in a hefty fine.”

If you’d like to discuss this further with Simon or Rob, please do contact them on the details below or visit our EPC information page:

Simon Harrison or 0191 281 7171.

Rob Hamilton or 0191 605 3482.

Water Abstraction Legislation signals big changes

The law surrounding water abstraction has recently changed, which is expected to have a huge impact on quarry, mine and construction operators.


Under the rules of the Water Resources Act 1991, operators must now hold a formal licence to legally abstract over 20m3/day for activities that were previously exempt. This includes:

  • dewatering of mines,
  • dewatering of quarries,
  • engineering works; and
  • all forms of irrigation.

The changes to the Act is part of the government backed initiative to manage our water resources more effectively and reduce impact on the environment.

“It’s a major shakeup for construction and mining firms as any new license required can take up to four months to secure,” said Andrew Rollo, Head of Energy at land, property and business Group George F. White. “Our team is working with several large and small operators, guiding them through what they need to do and by when so that existing and planned abstraction projects are not affected. Any legal delays can have massive implications for planned projects, at the operator’s expense. We aim to avoid this and ensure applications for the new licence are completed in a timely manner, and operators are fully aware of what is expected of them legally, to avoid unnecessary costs.”

For existing abstraction operations, the Environment Agency has set up transitional arrangements which aim to grant the majority of licences based upon existing requirements. This transitional period runs for two years, from 1 January 2018 until the 31 December 2019. To apply under these transitional arrangements, operators will need to demonstrate the validity of their abstraction requirements and that abstraction has taken place within the previous seven years.

To discuss the changes to legislation in more detail, and how it affects your current projects, please contact Andrew Rollo on or alternatively call 01665 603 231.

Seminar: Unlocking Potential with George F. White and The NFU

Our Northumberland team is collaborating with NFU North East to update farmers, landowners and rural business owners on the many ways of unlocking potential in their business.

medium image - Ship fields landscape v2


We will be covering:
  • Minerals – what lies beneath your feet? (Mike Young)
  • Succession and releasing the next generation (Louis Fell)
  • A summary of Robert Moore’s Nuffield Scholarship (Robert Moore)
  • Planning update – are you realising your development opportunities? (Craig Ross)
  • Rural grants – what is available right now? (David Hume)

  • Wednesday 14th March 2018
  • Morpeth Rugby Club
  • 17.30 arrival (18.00 presentation)
  • Pie and pea supper provided

Please reserve your place by calling: 01904 451 550.