Pressure increased today on chancellor Jeremy Hunt to scrap his “punitive” five-year Energy Generator Levy windfall tax on green generators’ sales, with resisters releasing a poll claiming extensive public opposition to the Treasury measure.
Scheduled to run from this week until April 2028, Hunt’s Energy Generator Levy seeks to claw back 45% of ‘exceptional revenues’ booked by wind-, solar and hydro-generators. The EGL still needs retrospective Parliamentary authorisation in March’s budget.
Already threatening to sue the government over the levy, wind-farm developer Community Windpower is leading clean power firms’ fight against Hunt’s five-year “emergency” impost, from which gas, nuclear and coal generators are exempt.
An opinion poll commissioned by Community Windpower among 1,000 representative Brits in Christmas week finds 41% objecting to the EGL targeting green generators exclusively. Only 9% agreed.
Half of the poll’s respondents backed schemes which feed back locally some energy profits, to help people struggling with their bills. 10% opposed such moves. Community Windpower is pumping £ 1 million this winter into the first such scheme of its kind in East Lothian.
Overall support for green electricity production runs deep, with 49% backing clean power and 14% opposed.
Polling firm Censuswide excludes from its report respondents declaring themselves ‘unsure’ on any question.
The poll probed views on the Conservatives’ wider record over twelve years on green issues and energy. Key findings from respondents included:
- 45% say the government is too close to big oil and gas companies. 17% disagree.
- 41% say ministers are not doing enough to support renewable energy. 21% say they are
- 34% say the Conservative administration does not care about the environment. 26% say they do.
- 41% do not believe ministers when they say they will take action on climate change. 23% do believe ministers.
- 41% disagreed that the Conservatives have a good track record on tax policies. 23% are satisfied.
Commenting on the poll’s findings, Community Windpower managing director Rod Wood said:
“This poll confirms what we suspected all along, namely that there is significant public disquiet over the controversial Energy Generator Levy and its smash and grab raid on renewables.
“The levy is bad news for consumers, bad news for the climate and bad news for our national energy security. We need more green energy, not less. The Government’s own legally-binding commitment is that all electricity will be low-carbon by 2035.
“A dependable domestic renewables sector is key to achieving this, so why are Ministers undermining their own ability to achieve Net Zero?”
Wood went on: “This polling shows that voters find it bizarre that the Government is bringing in a levy that will deliberately penalise renewable energy firms. This comes at a time when over half of Britain’s electricity demand is being met by low carbon power, saving consumers an estimated £5.7 billion in the last quarter by avoiding the need for gas imports.
“With this policy, the Government is putting at risk the UK’s renewables industry. It is jeopardising £200 – £300 billion of new investment and the 440,000 well paid jobs that the Government itself had previously forecast to be delivered by 2030. Investors will simply look to other countries if this policy is not substantially reversed.”
Community Windpower says it has already invested £2 billion into 1.5 GWp of non-thermal electricity capacity.
Last week the developer announced it has hired top solicitors Mischon de Rea in its efforts to block the EGL. Legal submissions already made after advice from senior barristers describe the levy as “unfairly disproportionate, discriminatory and adverse to the Government’s Net Zero Strategy”.
Representing 400 firms trading in low-carbon power making, the REA attacked the EGL as endangering investment in the sector, within hours of the government publishing its details on the last day as Parliament rose for its Christmas recess.