Letter Paul Barwell, CEO, Solar Trade Association; Andrew McCornick, President, NFU Scotland; Lang Banks, Director, WWF Scotland; Dr Richard Dixon, Director, Friends of the Earth Scotland and others. Scotland’s bold ambitions for renewable energy in the draft Scottish Energy Strategy are warmly welcome. Confidence among investors in UK renewables has been damaged by regressive policy change emanating from Westminster, particularly for the most affordable clean technologies; wind and solar. It is therefore more important than ever that the Scottish Government uses all the powers at its disposal to help restore jobs and vitality to these important industries, while delivering the cheapest clean power for the Scottish people. Rooftop solar provides an exceptionally cost-effective, popular, community-based solution with the potential for a staggering 40GW of rooftop capacity across Scotland. However, solar deployment on Scottish rooftops lags far behind both national and European deployment. One of the reasons for this is the particularly harsh tax treatment of rooftop solar on Scot tish businesses and public sector buildings, including schools and hospitals. Indeed business rates in Scotland for these larger solar roofs are currently 10 times those south of the Border (although Westminster threatens similar treatment) and these taxes do not apply in Europe. This is an own goal that needlessly puts the Scottish solar industry at a competitive disadvantage and denies Scottish business an important opportunity to invest for energy and carbon savings. The Scottish Government has the power to lay simple secondary legislation to exempt rooftop solar cells and panels from business rates and it should not hesitate to do so. The abrupt loss of national support for solar means the economics is now fragile, but decisive action on business rates would go a very long way to enabling new solar jobs and solar rooftops to blossom across Scotland. We urge ministers to now use their powers.
Herald 27th March 2017 read more »