Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Solar Schools in Redbridge
– and the Sting in the Tail

Back in the days when Redbridge had a Sustainability Panel (axed in budget cuts in 2013) we learned of ambitious plans to promote and provide community energy schemes as part of the council’s commitment to reducing it’s own and our impact on Climate Change and the CO2 reduction programme.

Now we learn (26 August) that Redbridge Council are to:
...lease the airspace above the roofs at selected maintained schools to a Community Interest Company (CIC) for a period of 21 years, who would install and maintain solar photovoltaic (PV) systems on the roofs at their cost and in return offer schools free usage of renewable electricity generated from the solar PV systems. 
By giving schools free and renewable electricity without any capital or revenue cost required from the schools or the Council, this proposal was expected to help schools reduce energy costs and carbon footprint. It also helped the Council progress towards its carbon reduction target and relieves funding pressure. Furthermore, by providing on site electricity generation, the proposal could also be expected to avoid the potential cost of upgrading power supply from the Grid which had been increasingly seen as a result of schools expansion and could be costly to the schools and the Council.
In fact the scaffolding at The Glade School had been evident through the summer holidays and the Solar Panels have been in place for a couple of weeks now. Here’s a photo of half of them taken today. The other array is to the right and I couldn’t get a good angle from outside the high fence.

However, what they didn’t take into account is the response from the major energy suppliers who it seems have persuaded our government that clean, renewable, localised, community energy doesn’t have any profit in it and therefore does not contribute to GDP growth.

Here’s what The Ecologist is reporting (5 September)
For state schools planning to go solar this year the business rate hike would reduce the lifetime return of the panels to zero or even negative, while those that have already installed solar panels face an unexpected tax bill in excess of £800 a year. 
Schools across the UK who have invested in solar panels could be facing surprise tax bills of over £800 next spring according to research by the climate change charity, 10:10.
This new tax will disproportionately (and unfairly) only affect state schools, as private schools, free schools and academies are exempt due to their charitable status.
Justine Roberts, CEO Mumsnet said: "Mumsnet has backed Solar Schools right from the beginning, because it seems like a no-brainer to us: clean energy, revenue for schools, and clever on-site tech to get young minds interested in the future of energy"

Over to you Cllr Norman …

1 comment:

  1. I knew it! They've finally found a way to tax the air.