Scottish business rate review ‘fails’ hydropower

Independent review recommends three-yearly revaluations and 12-month delays when properties are expanded

The British Hydropower Association has claimed an independent review into business rates in Scotland has failed the industry.

Speaking Utility Week, the association’s chief executive, Simon Hamlyn, said the Barclay review, which was published today “fails” the hydropower industry.

The review was commissioned by the Scottish Government last year and was headed up by the former chairman of RBS, Ken Barclay.

It makes several key recommendations, including a 12-month delay before business rates are increased when an existing property is expanded or improved, and also before rates apply to a new property.

It also calls on the Scottish Government to introduce three-yearly revaluations from 2022 onwards and there should be a separate review of plant and machinery valuations, with a particular focus on the renewable energy sector.

“More frequent revaluations will help reduce shocks to the system and we also believe that the large business supplement should be reduced,” said Barclay.

The British Hydropower Association warned earlier this year some operators could go bust because of proposed business rate rises.

Hamlyn said the Barclay review “took over a year to complete and the recommendations can, at best, be seen as tinkering at the edges of a fundamentally-flawed system”.

“We welcome the recognition of the plant and machine order, but its application to the hydropower sector is flawed and we urge the Scottish government to act quickly to bring non-domestic rates for the hydropower industry into line with those paid by all other industries of a commensurate scale,” he told Utility Week.

The Scottish finance secretary, Derek Mackay, said Holyrood will “respond swiftly to its recommendations”.

The chief executive of Scottish Renewables, Niall Stuart said it was “pleased to see the Barclay review recommend significant reform”.

“Today’s report is to be welcomed in both its understanding of the evidence submitted by Scottish Renewables, and our members, and in its call for action to address existing issues,” said Stuart.

“We would now encourage Scottish Government to ensure these changes become part of Scotland’s rating system as quickly as possible to deliver benefit to businesses in the renewables sector and across Scotland’s economy.”