Growers energy move

23 February 2001

Growers energy move

BRITISH growers have launched a scheme to cut energy use in an attempt to secure a 50% discount under a new energy tax to be introduced in April.

Horticultural producers will pledge to cut energy use by 15% over 10 years under the scheme.

The voluntary arrangement comes after Brussels refused to grant a 50% discount on the climate change levy agreed with MAFF.

The EU Commission says the discount should be linked to a commitment to cut energy use, to satisfy state aid rules. An 80% discount agreed for pig and poultry producers has been looked on favourably because it is linked to an energy reduction programme.

However, no programme was arranged for the horticulture sector – a situation which growers hope the new scheme will rectify. The new tax comes in on Apr 1.

The union wants growers representing half industry capacity to be signed up to the scheme by the time the application is discussed again in Brussels in March. Application packs are being sent out to 5000 growers.

NFU environment adviser Jacob Tompkins said he had been "surprised" when the government officials had told him the discount would be awarded with no conditions attached.

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