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Businesses join call for Scottish solar power reforms…

PUBLISHED ON: 14/11/2022

Scottish businesses from a variety of sectors have backed the solar industry's calls for urgent changes to the business rates and planning law.

In a joint letter to the Scottish government, more than 20 businesses and trade associations have argued that business rates and permitted development rights should be changed because they are currently impeding the implementation of solar energy.

It suggests that such changes would help businesses reduce energy costs and achieve decarbonisation.

The signatories include representatives from the agricultural, storage, distilling, food, and solar industries. Other signatories include the Scottish Timber Trade Association, the Federation of Small Businesses and the UK Warehousing Association.

The letter asks the Scottish government to allow the installation of solar panels with capacities of up to 5MW without the requirement for planning permission. The current threshold for “permitted development” is 50kW.

Constraints to rooftop solar

According to the letter’s statement, “this constraint restricts the possibilities for commercial rooftop solar”.

“The maximum size of a solar power project will naturally be constrained by the area of a roof, which will be subject to all other relevant planning requirements in any case.”

The letter, written by the trade association Solar Energy Scotland, also asks ministers to exempt businesses from paying non-domestic rates on new solar panels on a rolling 12-year basis, as is the case in England.

“Business owners who install solar should not have to pay a premium to decarbonise their operations,” it says.

“The Scottish government essentially penalises Scottish businesses which desire to install affordable, dependable, and renewable onsite electricity, putting its own ambitious climate mitigation targets at risk.”

Solar changes

Solar Energy Scotland chairman Thomas McMillan said: “Solar energy is now the cheapest energy source available to Scottish businesses, and can be deployed rapidly, improving our energy security and reducing our carbon emissions.

“Given we face growing climate breakdown, geopolitical instability and sharply rising costs, I hope these simple changes can be delivered before the end of the year.”

According to the Scottish government, it provided non-domestic rates relief for small-scale solar energy producers, as well as support for microgeneration producers and businesses that retrofitted micro-renewable schemes to meet a portion of their energy needs.

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