Tories lead Scottish renewable energy industry attack over ‘exorbitant’ rise of £24,500 a year for hydro-business rates

The Shadow Scottish Energy minister has attacked the Scottish Government for ‘exorbitant’ business rates rises of up to 650% facing Scots renewable energy firms.

As EXCLUSIVELY revealed in yesterday’s Scottish Energy News, energy and tax experts from CKD Galbraith, the leading independent property consultancy warned owners and operators of hydro energy schemes and wind turbine farm developers to ‘brace themselves’ for an unwelcome shock.

See: 7 Feb 2017:

CKD Galbraith property experts warn of new business rates bombshell for Scottish renewable energy sector

Tory MSP Alexander Burnett, Scottish Conservative Energy spokesman said: “These are exorbitant increases by any measure and it is little wonder that we are hearing a stark warning from the Scottish renewables sector about the potential impact.

“The SNP government talks a lot about its commitment to renewable energy, but these massive rises will clearly put many small scale projects under threat.

“We are hearing from businesses now across a range of sectors about rates rises, not least in my constituency in Aberdeenshire, and it is time that we saw some meaningful action from the government.”

A relief scheme which was introduced by the Scottish Government to assist generators ended in 2015 and a replacement has not been introduced, leaving business-owners and operators worried about their future.

Alexander Burnett, MSP
Alexander Burnett, MSP

For example, Scottish renewables developer Green Power –  which operates a 500kW run-of-river hydro project near Kinloch Rannoch in Highland Perthshire – could see its rates bill rise by £24,500 per year, an increase of 154%.

James Simpson, Finance Director, said: “These planned increases will have a devastating impact on our business and its future ambitions.

“We had hoped to employ someone to help us maintain the site over its lifetime but we cannot make that kind of commitment when so much of our capital will be spent on rates.

“The wider impact to our business will be that we will have to think twice about widening our portfolio and building new hydro schemes and wind farms in Scotland.

“The knock-on effect of this will be fewer jobs in development, construction and operation and fewer opportunities for those companies within our supply chain.”

A Scots renewables industry insider commented: “It is unrealistic to expect a company of any size to absorb increases of this scale overnight, particularly in the context of the likely Feed-in Tariff closure in 2019, which has already made it harder to justify investment in new projects.

“The Scottish Government has big ambitions for small-scale renewables, but these increases in rates will make it even more difficult for smaller hydro, solar and wind projects to go ahead.”

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