Alba Energy blasts Scottish business rates review

Barclay review contains “little of significance” for independent hydro operators

The chairman of Alba Energy has claimed an independent review of the business rates system in Scotland has produced “little of significance” for the hydropower sector.

The Barclay review, which was published earlier this week made a number of key recommendations to the Scottish Government, including three-year revaluations from 2022 onwards.

It also called for separate review of plant and machinery valuations, with a particular focus on the renewable energy sector.

The review was commissioned by the Scottish Government and chaired by the former chairman of RBS, Ken Barclay.

But both the British Hydropower Association and Alba Energy, representing independent hydro operators in Scotland, have called for a “minor clarification” of the rules around plants and machinery to bring business rates in line with other industries, particularly the wind sector.

“For the last five years, the small hydro industry has repeatedly reported and appealed a crisis in methods used to generate rateable values for small hydro, which have now increased by hundreds of percentage points, out of all proportion to the small wind sector,” said Alba Energy chairman, Martin Foster.

“Ken Barclay and this team have had a year to investigate, but have produced little of significance for independent hydropower operators.”

The chairman of the British Hydropower Association, Adrian Loening, added the review “does little to challenge the Scottish Government to bring non-domestic rates legislation into the 21st century”.

“After an entire year of consideration, all the report offers are minor amendments and further reviews – all too little, or too late, for the beleaguered hydropower industry in Scotland.”