Businessman pulls plug on hydro plan in wake of rates hike shock
A LOCHABER businessman has revealed he will not be continuing with plans for a new hydro-power scheme in Ardgour after a shock rise in business rates was announced.
Owner of Corrigan Contractors, Shaun Corrigan, who planned to build two new hydro schemes in Ardgour told The
Oban Times he won’t be putting in a planning application for the project after businesses rates were revealed.
Mr Corrigan, who lives in Ardgour and has had his contracting business for 10 years, said the schemes would have created enough renewable energy to power up to 1,000 homes with green energy.
The last project Mr Corrigan worked on cost £2.2 million, creating 22 jobs for the duration of the project, 12 of which were maintained. His latest development would have cost around £ 3.5 million and created at least the same number of jobs.
Mr Corrigan said: ‘ We have spent tens of thousands of pounds in the last year to get to the planning stage, but now the businesses rates have come out it’s just made the whole project unviable. We were about to go to planning, but we have had to reconsider the whole project.
‘We don’t know exactly how much our rates would have been, but it would have been about 30 per cent of the station’s turnover. No businesses can stand up to being taxed on their turnover.
‘ We have sent letters to all the local MSPs because we are not your usual businesses building
It’s made the whole project unviable ” Shaun Corrigan Corrigan Contractors
a hydro scheme. We are a local company which employs local people. The hydro scheme would stabilise our business and ensure long-term employment of local people. We won’t go to planning on this project unless we see a radical change in the proposed rates.’
On Tuesday, finance secretary Derek Mackay reported increases will be capped at 12.5 per cent through the creation of a new national relief scheme.
He said: ‘Hospitality businesses, such as hotels and pubs, across Scotland will see rises capped at no more than 12.5 per cent, recognising the concerns that have been raised with me over the scale of the increases and the valuation methodology.’
Companies working in the renewables sector, including hydro schemes, are also said to be receiving further support.
Adrian Laycock of Adrian Laycock Ltd Consulting Engineers, which builds and designs hydro schemes, said: ‘The rates the government are proposing are disastrous. They will kill off hydro schemes.
‘ We are affected because if our clients go out of business we will too. Some clients have already cancelled plans with us because of the businesses rates. Some firms are facing a 600 per cent increase.
‘The government keeps saying it wants people to produce more green energy, but this is going about it the completely wrong way.’
Mr Laycock’s company has designed and built two hyrdo schemes in Glenfinnan and had plans in the pipeline to work on another, but the clients pulled out after hearing about the possible rise in business rates.
He said: ‘I employ six highly- qualified engineers and if half of my clients go out of business my staff will too. What an earth is the government playing at?’
In response to The Oban Times article last Thursday, owner of the Tavern restaurant in Fort William, John MacLennan, said his businesses could be facing a 51 per cent increase.
‘ We are facing a ridiculous 51 per cent increase in our businesses rates compared to Tesco, more than likely the most profitable shop in the High Street, which is getting a 45 per cent reduction.
‘We have no option but to pass these costs on to our customers to ensure the job security of our current staff.’
Councillor Ben Thompson said: ‘I’m extremely concerned the business rate revaluation unfairly penalises tourism and renewables in particular. Both are very important to the Lochaber economy. I know of several businesses that are considering reducing their opening times, or cutting back on staffing levels, to lower their rates bills. We should not be imposing a tax hike that penalises jobs.’