UK Spring Budget: Chancellor silent on solar

Philip Hammond speaks at the Chatham House London Conference in June 2016.

Despite strong opposition to the planned tax increase; including a petition with more than 200,000 signatures, the Chancellor did not include the issue in his Spring Budget announcement earlier today, and indeed made no mention of renewable energy whatsoever.

Britain’s Solar Trade Association (STA) has voiced concern for the 44,000 system owners who will be affected by the increase from the beginning of April, including schools in England and Wales, which could see additional taxes of up to GBP 1.8 million, according to recent research.

“We are dismayed that responsible organizations that use their own rooftop solar are still facing an extreme business rate rise of up to 800% from April,” stated the association’s CEO Paul Barwell. “The Chancellor says he wants the UK at ‘the cutting edge of the global economy’ – his tax policies for energy risk the opposite.”

The Spring Budget made few mentions of energy, however the Chancellor did announce plans to investigate tax incentives to help the oil and gas industry. “Some fossil fuel technologies are already exempt from business rates, and today the Chancellor again took special care of oil and gas,” continues Barwell. “It is surprising that the Treasury’s tax policies tend to yesterdays technologies while putting clean, modern solar at a competitive disadvantage.”

STA say that it will continue to oppose the business rate rise, now looking to Parliament to make changes. The association yesterday published a list of further measures it hoped to see adopted in the Spring Budget, which include a review of feed-in-tariff policy, the removal of further tax roadblocks and the adoption of smart infrastructure across the country.