06 August 1999
‘Energy tax could cost £26m’

By Farmers Weekly reporters

A PLANNED energy tax could cost British farmers and growers more than £26 million, but deliver no significant environmental benefits, claims the National Farmers Union.

A new report by the NFU claims that government proposals to introduce an energy tax would have a severe financial effect on farmers and growers.

Tony Pexton, NFU deputy president claimed the government proposed to tax energy use from 1 April, 2001 as part of its commitment to cut carbon dioxide emissions.

But farmers and growers should be exempt from the tax because it would damage the competitiveness of British horticulture and agriculture, he said.

“Here is another government-imposed restriction … with potentially serious consequences for employment and the general rural economy,” said Mr Pexton.

A report by parliaments cross-party trade and industry select committee last month concluded that a levy could prove “a blunt instrument”.

British Sugar, which has supported the objective of an energy tax, estimates that it would cost the business £6m a year and cost a potential 24,000 UK jobs.

It claimed the tax could put the British sugar beet industry into “a downward spiral that would have a severe impact … on our business [and] on the agricultural community”.

British Sugars Paul Gardiner, also chairman of the Food and Drink Federations working party on the energy tax, said a tax could cost the sector as much as £150m.