Changes in business rates has resulted in, 92% of Wales’ community
hydro energy projects see an increase in their business rates, some by
as much as 900%.

Now in a letter to members of the National Assembly’s Climate
Change, Environment and Rural Affairs committee the Cabinet Secretary
for the Environment Lesley Griffiths admits that hydropower schemes
have been disproportionately affected by non-domestic rates
revaluation.

Plaid Cymru Assembly Members Simon Thomas and Sian Gwenllian met with
hydro business leaders in July to discuss the issue and have
consistently pressed the Labour Government in Cardiff Bay to improve
the situation over business rates.

During Environment questions on (Wednesday 20 September 2017) Simon
Thomas quizzed the Cabinet Secretary Lesley Griffiths about the issue.

Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Climate Change and Rural Affairs
Simon Thomas said:

“The Welsh Government should be really concerned about this
situation. It says that it wants Wales to be a green nation, and
community hydro projects are crucial in making that happen. But its
changes to business rates are making these projects unprofitable. This
money would have been re-invested into the local community.

“The Welsh Government needs to introduce a business rate relief
scheme for community hydro schemes so that our rural communities can
continue to benefit and increase the amount of renewable energy we
produce.

“The SNP Scottish Government introduced a similar scheme. The
Labour Government here now needs to follow suit, and quickly before
some of these schemes fail.

“It seems that one hand of Welsh Government does not know what the
other is doing because while they are supporting hydro-electric
schemes through the Local Energy service they are taking away money
from the community projects through the business rates system.

“These type of energy projects that give so much back to their
communities have to be supported by government if we are ever to reach
a zero carbon Wales.”

Simon Hamlyn, Chief Executive Officer of the British Hydropower
Association added:

“The British Hydropower Association [BHA] is very pleased that Mr
Thomas questioned Lesley Griffiths over the serious matter of the
totally unjustifiable business rates increases for hydropower. The BHA
has written to Mr Drakeford on numerous occasions about the severe
impact the 2017 revaluation is having on the hydropower sector, but to
date no proposals have been bought forward by Welsh Government for a
long-term solution.

“The BHA met with Lesley Griffiths on the 5th of July where the
issue of business rates was raised and a commitment was made by the
Cabinet Secretary to meet with Mr Drakeford during the summer recess
to discuss the issue and seek a solution. The BHA has recently written
to Lesley Griffiths to learn the outcome of that meeting, as we are
keen to know what solution is being considered to address the problem
and when it will be implemented.

“The BHA is very much aware of the consultation launch recently on
a permanent business rates relief scheme to which we will respond, but
as the BHA has pointed out on several occasions to Welsh Government,
rounds of relief is not the solution. There needs to be a permanent
solution to address this problem and it is needed sooner, rather than
later.”

 

 


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