Children ask Treasury to stop solar tax hike ahead of Budget

Children from Eleanor Palmer Primary school in Camden, London, visited the Treasury on 7 March to deliver a petition from 200,000 people asking the Chancellor to drop a business rate tax hike that threatens their school solar project.

Waving a large sunshine and solar panel artwork, the children represented 200,000 Greenpeace supporters who signed a petition asking the Treasury to rethink the planned business rate tax hike on solar for self-consumption, so schools, hospitals and businesses generating their own renewable energy aren’t penalised unfairly.

Greenpeace UK and the Solar Trade Association arranged for the children to visit the Treasury so they could take the petition to the government’s economic and finance ministry themselves.

Nina Schrank, energy campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said: “Solar technology has great potential for the UK, offering new jobs, investment, and clean, competitively priced energy. Other countries are making positive strides in harnessing the sun’s energy, but the UK government is going backwards and hitting solar champions with unfair tax hikes. Schools, hospitals and businesses have installed solar panels to generate their own clean electricity. It’s ludicrous that they should be unfairly taxed, making their solar projects financially unviable in many cases. More than 200,000 people are urging ministers to stop the solar tax hike, not stop the solar industry in its tracks.”

Paul Barwell, CEO of Solar Trade Association, said: “We urge the Chancellor to do the right thing and to drop the solar tax hike in his Budget. If we want a modern, clean economy it makes no sense to load crippling business rates on the very people who are taking care to invest in our future. These self-defeating proposals couldn’t come at a worse time for the solar industry – rooftop solar deployment is at a six year low. The last thing solar needs right now is an extreme and nonsensical tax hike.”

Public sector organisations such as schools, hospitals and businesses who have invested in solar panels to generate energy for their own use, will be affected by business rate rises of up to 800% from April (300-400% for schools and hospitals and 600-800% for businesses). The industry fears that people will be deterred from installing solar panels in the future.

Recent government funding cuts have already caused more than ten thousand job losses in the UK solar sector. A report by PwC last year put solar sector job losses at more than 12,000 – representing a third of industry jobs. The Guardian reported that four in 10 companies were considering leaving the solar market entirely.

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