Budget changes affect Community Energy Schemes
With effect from 6 April 2015, companies benefiting substantially from subsidies from the generation of renewable energy will be excluded from benefiting from the EIS (Enterprise Investment Scheme), Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS), and Venture Capital Trust (VCTs).
Community energy generation undertaken by qualifying organisations will in future become eligible for the social investment tax relief.
The government has set the rate of income tax relief for Social VCTs at 30%. Investors will pay no tax on dividends received from a Social VCT or capital gains tax on disposals of shares in these vehicles, which have the same excluded activities as the social investment tax relief. The government will legislate for Social VCTs in a future Finance Bill.
The Government has updated the Community Energy Strategy
The Strategy announces a new Urban Community Energy Fund, a non-rural counterpart to the existing Rural Community Energy Fund administered by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP). This new fund will provide communities in England with access to ‘at risk’ finance for the early stages of projects.
It says: “it is our expectation that by 2015 it should be the norm for interested communities to be offered some level of ownership of new, commercially-developed onshore renewables projects.”
It says it will be commissioning a new information resource for community energy in England. This will be developed with community energy groups using a business model that enables it to become self-sustaining. This follows the £500,000 community energy peer mentoring fund launched by the Cabinet Office in November last year.
It has also published a research report outlining the scale and geographical distribution of community energy in the UK.
Friends of the earth launch seven point community energy plan
Friends of the Earth is calling on all political parties to show support for community energy and has issued a seven point action plan ahead of the general election, asking political parties to support to encourage communities and small businesses to invest in clean energy.
The seven point plan is as follows
*Pledging to have fitted six million domestic solar rooftop systems by 2020;
*Introducing measures to enable every school in the UK to go solar- including allowing schools to borrow money to install panels;
*Allowing renewable energy investments to be included in ISAs;
*Making it easier and cheaper for communities to buy and sell electricity generated locally at a fair price;
*Giving communities the right to invest in nearby large-scale renewable developments with a mandatory community share offer of at least 20%; *Guaranteeing grid connection for communities at an affordable cost; *Giving local government a duty to reduce carbon emissions; and plan for, and actively support, the development of community-owned renewable energy.