Don’t tax renewables

There is a device in the House of Commons called an Early Day Motion whereby  MPs can express a view on a particular topic relating to any subject you can think of and probably a few that wouldn’t ever have occurred to you, such as Carnwath Primary School’s lottery grant and local newspapers in South London. However, some EDMs are important and deserve to garner support from a large number of our elected representatives in order to show the strength of feeling on a topic.

One such that has all-party support is EDM 491 on business rates and solar power. The gist of the EDM is that the supporters of the EDM;

expresses deep concern at the changes to the rateable value of rooftop photovoltaic solar panels being proposed by the Valuation Office Agency, which may result in a six to eight-fold increase in the business rate charges to businesses, community groups and schools for the use of their own rooftop solar across the UK; notes the popularity, importance and affordability of solar power; and calls on the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Department for Communities and Local Government and HM Treasury to take action to prevent unexpected and extreme business rate rises for solar… 

It does seem odd that schools trying to keep down costs and perhaps generate a small amount of feed-in tariff should have to contemplate turning off their PV panels because it might cost them more to operate them than to either turn them off or even remove them.

According to a video from Caroline Lucas, the Green Party MP, the situation is even more ludicrous as she states in the video that private schools would not pay the additional tax – presumably where they are charities? If this is the case, then why not exempt all non-income generating public buildings such as schools from any change to business rates. However, I would go further and support the ban on any form of tax on renewables anywhere as counterproductive to their essential purpose to help reduce greenhouses gases and the use of Carbon Dioxide.

If you agree, please email you local MP and ask them to either sign the EDM or explain why they think it is a good idea to tax renewable energy sources in schools? You might ask your professional association what stance they take on the EDM.

I am also interested in the use of asphalt covered playgrounds as a source of ground source heat generation. After all, these open spaces are probably left uncovered for 99% of the year. Providing a low cost form of installation can be devised playgrounds should offer a good potential source of low-level heat generation. Perhaps a university School of Education could team up with one of the science departments in the university to devise a viable scheme that could be installed over a summer holiday period?