The Impact of Business Rates on Community Energy

As someone who has worked in the energy industry for over a decade the impact the new Business Rates are having on community energy is particularly painful.

The BBC did a fine piece exploring the issue and even featured schemes I’ve designed but I felt I had to snatch a few moments from work and have my say. It’s only the Next Industrial Revolution after all…


Wales Green Party Calls for Westminster to Back a Welsh Green Energy Revolution That Can Lead The World



More than 20 industrial companies employing more than 42,500 people are pressing the government to back tidal lagoon technology in Swansea. Ministers in Westminster are expected to make a decision this Thursday 12th January when the Hendry review will be published and could make or break the fledgling Tidal Power Industry. It will determine whether the UK will go down a route of domestic energy security, reduced carbon emissions and huge employment opportunities from a homegrown industry, or will illustrate yet again that the UK Government is only willing to see tax breaks and subsidies go towards fossil fuel companies and foreign investors.

Pippa Bartolotti, Deputy Leader of the Wales Green Party said, “Industry is emphatically pressing for the Swansea Bay Tidal lagoon, and it would be folly if the government does not give the green light on this proposal this week.  Greens applaud industry in recognizing that this technology is in the front line of opening massive employment and regeneration possibilities. When built, the Lagoon will put Swansea, and Wales, firmly on the map at the sharp end of tidal power generation. There will be tremendous opportunities for eco- tourism and a much needed morale boost for the whole of Wales.

Grenville Ham, Deputy Spokesperson of the Wales Green Party, and recipient of a royal honour for his ‘Services to the Renewable Energy Industry in Wales’, said: “Tidal lagoons can quickly become a central pillar of the UK energy mix. Tidal power is predictable, never-ending, and crucially, will form part of a homegrown energy industry that can lead the world.”

Speaking about project investment Grenville went on to say “A bold vision from our leaders will create thousands of jobs, make Wales a world leader in the energy industry and drive down our carbon emissions. This first prototype of a tidal lagoon, as in the case of all prototypes, will not necessarily be the most cost effective version, and government has to realize that this investment is firmly for the well being of future generations. Indeed, there should be nothing stopping the UK or Welsh Governments investing themselves in order to bring down the required subsidy level and still provide a decent return for taxpayers.”

Shortly after the EU referendum, the government committed to cutting carbon emissions by 57% by 2030 on 1990 levels, but has so far failed to spell out how it will support renewable energy beyond 2020. With the huge cuts to renewable energy support and fossil fuel companies continuing to receive eye-watering tax breaks and subsidies, the Government has a poor record in supporting homegrown technologies, carbon reduction and local job creation.

Bartolotti added, “We need to take the long term view of such an important investment and help create the green supply chain which will contribute to the long term prosperity of Wales. This country is well placed to build genuine income from renewable energy. The case against the Lagoon is a case against investing in Wales.  Let’s not delay the Swansea Tidal Lagoon any more. For too long we have muddled along with polluting old industries, the Swansea Lagoon will be quite literally a breath of fresh air”

Tidal lagoons are predictable, generate no carbon emissions and could provide as much as 12 per cent of Britain’s electricity needs. The Hendry review will determine whether there is a future for the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon, a pioneering scheme that will provide enough power for 155,000 homes. The Lagoon will use proven, yet cutting-edge technology, to pioneer a fleet of larger projects, which, if approved, could power up to a third of UK homes for the next five generations.

The Swansea Bay Tidal lagoon is expected to have a lifespan of 120 years.

Wales Green Party calls for Westminster to cease all subsidies to oil and gas with immediate effect

Despite the G20 pledge in 2009 to collectively phase out fossil fuel subsidies, the UK has only increased its financial support to the industry ever since. On top of this, it has emerged that the decommissioning of the oil and gas fields in the North Sea bears a subsequent price tag, exceeding the remaining tax revenues. At present the cost of decommissioning falls to the British taxpayer to take care of. This is a new low in the successive Westminster governments’ stubborn and continuing support of the fossil fuel industry.

The Financial Times reports today that the UK faces a bill of £24 billion for shutting North Sea fields. FT reports that: “decommissioning costs are subsidised under rules allowing oil companies to claw back some of the £330bn of taxes paid since North Sea production began. The tax relief was designed to prevent clean-up liabilities deterring investment.”

Grenville Ham, deputy spokesperson of the Wales Green Party, issued a statement in response to the figures. He said:

“Tax breaks and subsidies to the fossil fuel industry are almost a taboo subject, yet they amount to several billions of pounds. The North Sea oil and gas companies made huge profits over the course of the past four decades. They should be the ones picking up the bill for the mess they have made and are now threatening to leave behind.”

“The true costs of extracting fossil fuels – such as to the environment and our health – are not accounted for by the government making these sizeable pay-outs. In the current situation, the hapless taxpayer is being forced to foot the bill for a £24bn clean-up operation, when this money should have been costed into the operation from day one.”

The Wales Green Party is calling for subsidies on all fossil fuels to be removed. Fossil fuel subsidies are the main obstacle to the growth of renewable energy.

Pippa Bartolotti, deputy spokesperson of the Wales Green Party, said: “We need to switch these subsidies away from fossil fuels and into developing truly sustainable systems of energy storage and generation. This is the only way we will be able to control both pollution and temperatures. By holding onto these huge fossil fuel subsidies at the cost of renewable energy development, the UK risks not being able to keep up the pace with progress.”

“In Wales there are huge opportunities for renewable energy generation, yet the government in Westminster has time and again hesitated to invest in and promote them. Swansea tidal lagoon is an apt example. Westminster’s cited lack of funds in the face of the budget deficit does not seem to be a problem when it comes to subsiding oil and gas yet it is halting the possibilities to develop renewable energy in this country.”