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Renewable Energy

Volume 623: debated on Tuesday 14 March 2017

Nearly £56 billion has been invested in renewable energy since 2012. In the Budget last year, my right hon. Friend the former Chancellor of the Exchequer announced £730 million of annual support for less established renewable energy projects, including offshore wind. In the previous autumn statement, the renewable heat incentive was announced, at £1.15 billion by 2021.

We have heard a lot about the importance of small business this morning. There are 44,000 small businesses that have their own solar microgenerators. Currently, they are exempt from business rates, but from 1 April they face an 800% increase in business rates, which is clearly damaging for them and for the solar industry. I hope that that is not deliberate, so will the Minister meet the Chancellor to see what can be done to relieve the situation?

Of course, the impact of rates differs from company to company as regards their solar panels. Three quarters of businesses are projected to have rates that fall next year and there is of course transitional rates relief, but the Department has long recognised the problem in some cases to which she refers, and we are in active discussion with other Departments about it.