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Business rates hike threatens viability of rooftop solar

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The STA’s preferred solution is that all self-owned rooftop solar is made exempt under the ‘Plant and Machinery’ list, as is currently the case for CHP plants.

The Solar Trade Association (STA) has raised the alarm about a possible six- to eightfold rise on business rates for rooftop solar coming into effect from 1 April 2017

In an email to its membership, the STA says: “The Valuation Office Agency is currently revaluing business rates, a tax due on all non-domestic solar. The big picture is that from next year most commercial businesses with solar on their roofs will see their business rates rise by 6-8 times. This will come into effect from 1 April 2017.”

“This could significantly impact the bottom line for existing and new solar assets, which means it impacts both asset owners and installers. It could potentially make commercial rooftop solar economically unviable – yet another blow to the industry.”

“The STA has been liaising closely with its members and the VOA, however we now feel we have little choice but to escalate this to a political level. We raised the issue with Minister Andrea Leadsom when we met her last week and now plan to work with departments across government on this including DCLG, HMT and DECC.”

“In our view, commercial businesses are already paying business rates on their buildings, and they pay higher corporation tax due to lower overheads from self-consumption. Our preferred solution is that all self-owned rooftop solar is made exempt under the ‘Plant and Machinery’ list, as is currently the case for CHP plants. On principle, tax should not prevent businesses from doing business, particularly where they are doing the right thing by using clean energy and helping us meet our renewable energy targets.”

The STA has produced a detailed briefing for its members on how the proposed rates hike will impact them. It calls upon those interested to join the STA to understand how this can impact their projects, and help the STA build a case to Government by adding more voices to the campaign.

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