UFU urges farmers to appeal bills

The Ulster Farmers’ Union has met with Land and Property Services (LPS) to discuss the increased rates bills being issued to small scale renewable (>50kW) electricity generators in Northern Ireland.

UFU Rural Enterprise Chairman Gary Hawkes said the Non-Domestic Revaluation, known as REVAL, has resulted in the rateable value for renewable electricity generation (>50kW) increasing by significant amounts.

He added: “LPS have made it clear that the change in the process, where ‘valuation by prescription’ would be replaced by ‘valuation in line with Schedule 12’ mirrors that used by the VOA in England when attaching a rateable value to individual renewables projects.

“We are concerned that the receipt and expenditure method, known as valuation in line with Schedule 12, generates a Net Annual Value based upon the rental value paid by a proposed tenant, which will apply to a plethora of non-domestic business, lumping small scale electricity generators with pubs, hotels and shops.

“Had the UFU been fully consulted, we would have made our objections clear at the time.

“Aside with having queries on the method of calculation, the UFU are concerned about the size of the increase in the rates bills facing many landowners.

“Many wind turbine developments face lengthy pay-back periods and such strains on their cash flows could put increased pressures on their businesses.”

Mr Hawkes continued: “We will be writing to the Finance Minister to voice our concerns and have suggested that LPS consider a Renewable Energy Generation Scheme Relief Scheme similar to that which has been in operation in Scotland since 2010.

“The UFU would also advise any members who have received a sizable rates bill since 1st April 2015 to appeal it through the statutory channels whilst the UFU continue to lobby for an acceptable resolution.”