Mid-Norfolk MP George Freeman’s green energy pledge during Ridgeons visit
The MP for Mid-Norfolk said he was sympathetic to the need for tax breaks to help the emerging green energy industry during a visit to a construction firm yesterday.
Tory George Freeman said there could be a need to look at tax breaks for energy-efficient home improvement products during a visit to the Rockland All Saints branch of Ridgeons, which has seen a rapid growth in sales of its renewable energy products, including ground and air source heat pumps, solar panels and biomass boilers.
During his trip, he was given a guided tour of the premises by branch manager Mike Fields, director Chris Greaves and Brett Amphlett, of the Builders Merchants Federation, and discussed the value of small and medium-sized builders in creating jobs and growth, the trading outlook for markets and how the building materials supply chain was evolving during the economic downturn.
But the Ridgeons representatives were also concerned complex VAT rates were putting potential customers off switching to renewable energy as some micro-generation and energy-saving measures came with 20pc VAT, compared to the 5pc VAT customers paid on energy bills.
Mr Greaves believed that the 5pc VAT rate should cover all energy-saving measures so customers had an added incentive to 'go green'.
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'It is not just insulation. There are a lot of other products, ground source heat pumps, air source heat pumps. If you want to get these products off the ground, to get them used around the country then you have got to have some incentives there.'
The Ridgeons employees also raised fears the government's Green Deal programme to cut carbon emissions was too reliant on large energy suppliers.
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Mr Freeman said: 'I am very sympathetic to the argument that we may need to look at tax breaks for energy-efficient home-improvement products and I will be discussing this with ministers from the Department for Energy and Climate Change.'
He added that setting the right tariffs to promote the renewable energy market was not easy and the government would monitor the market to ensure rates were set correctly.
Ridgeons is the largest independent timber and builders' merchant in the East with 22 branches and 760 staff.