I write regarding the recent self congratulatory press release from Susenco and Ovesco regarding the Wick Street community Solar farm Company. They are offering local people the opportunity to buy £3million of shares in the development and pretend that this is in some way a wonderful give back to the people who have to live day to day with the ugly 50-acre industrial solar site they are placing on green pastureland in our parish.
The reality is that solar site development is being supported by government subsidies on the electricity generated (which we pay for through government surcharges on our bills), giving investors a virtually guaranteed long term return on their money. Having taken away a shared public amenity – the pleasure of looking at lovely farm land – the developers are now asking the local people to further part fund the development with their own hard won savings.
Investing in small private companies is high risk, mitigated in part by attractive tax avoidance for higher rate tax payers. Surely the world has gone mad when the government subsidises this development and then loses much needed tax revenue through sophisticated financial manipulation.
This is not a scheme that will benefit the vast majority of people in Berwick and Selmeston parishes. I predict that when the final role call of investors is seen, the vast majority will be out of area investors, who are attracted by the tax breaks and long term government (you and me) guaranteed return. If Dr Alister Scott really wants a community sharing scheme, then persuade Susenco and Ovesco to GIVE, AT NO COST, a significant portion of the shares to the local parishes effected so that the money generated can be used to benefit everyone in the parish. That would be a truly revolutionary approach that would be applauded by even grumpy old me.
A J Eagle