Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

EU Emissions Trading System: How to comply

How to comply with the EU ETS

To comply with the European Union Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), your installation must legally hand over (surrender) enough allowances to cover your emissions from the previous year. Allowances are issued every February for the following year.

The deadline for surrendering allowances is 30 April every year. Failure to comply is met with financial penalties - €100 for every tonne of CO2 for which you fail to surrender allowances - plus you have to make up for the shortfall the following year.

Greenhouse gas permits

The regulations require that if you carry out a listed activity releasing CO2, after 1 January 2005, you must have a permit. The activities covered by the regulations are known as 'Schedule 1 activities'. It is a criminal offence to carry out a Schedule 1 activity resulting in CO2 emissions without a permit.

When you apply for a permit, you must also submit a plan for monitoring and reporting emissions. This will require approval from your regulator. This is the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) for installations in Scotland or the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) for offshore installations.

 DAERA: Greenhouse gases

SEPA: Greenhouse gas permit applications

Operational changes

If the operation of your installation changes, you will need to contact your regulator for a variation to your permit and monitoring plan. Any changes to the way you monitor your emissions, even replacement of a meter, may affect your monitoring plan so you should notify your regulator.

If operations at your installation cease or the emissions drop below threshold levels, you should contact your regulator to see if your EU ETS obligations are affected. A partial or temporary closure will not usually affect your annual allowance allocations, but you should check with your regulator before these closures take place. You should notify your regulator if the temporary closure will extend beyond 50 days.

If your installation closes permanently, allowances for the subsequent year will be withheld. You should apply to your regulator to surrender your permit and provide verified reports up to the date of closure.

Monitoring, reporting and verification

Regulators are responsible for overseeing the monitoring, reporting and verification of emissions from installations. All applications, reports and notifications for regulated sites in Northern Ireland and Scotland must be made through the ETSWAP web portal.

ETSWAP: Information and Login

You must have all annual reports and monitoring verified by an independent and accredited verifier. Verifiers are private companies, accredited by the UK Accreditation Service, who will charge a fee to check that the information and data in annual emissions reports are free from:

  • inconsistencies in monitoring
  • material omissions
  • misrepresentations
  • errors.

The verifier will also confirm your annual emissions figure and produce a verification opinion statement that must be sent to your regulator. To enable the surrender of an appropriate number of allowances, it is essential you have a verified emissions figure in the registry by 1 April each year. Although you can surrender allowances without a verified report, you take the risk that following later verification there is a shortfall and the €100 per tonne of CO2 penalty is enforced.


GOV.UK: Information for operators

GOV.UK Monitoring, reporting and verification

In this Guideline

What is emissions trading?

EU Emissions Trading System: Who is affected

EU Emissions Trading System: How to comply

EU Emissions Trading System: Trading allowances

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NIEA - Apply online

SEPA - Application forms