A two-year extension to the Climate Change Agreement (CCA) scheme was announced last month in the government’s Budget statement. The target period will run from January to December 2024, with performance against those targets entitling scheme members to climate change levy discounts until the end of March 2027.
No further announcement has been made on whether greenhouse growers could be included in the new energy and trade intensive industries (ETII) energy price support scheme.
The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero said the two-year extension would allow it time to ‘continue exploring’ a potential future reformed CCA scheme, a consultation on which opened last year ahead of the original end date for the existing CCA scheme of December 2022.
NFU Energy director Jon Swain said the CCA extension would be good for horticulture but questioned how targets, and penalties for not meeting them, were being set.
“It looks like the latest target period, period 5, which ended in December, is being proposed as the base for setting targets for the next one,” he said. “But of course this was an extraordinary period of high energy costs and many growers will have cut back on cropping and hence energy consumption. So any energy reduction targets based on usage then could be really difficult to achieve.
“On top of that is a proposed increase in the buy-out price – the penalty cost in terms of tonnes of carbon emissions if you don’t meet the targets – from the current £18 to £25. That appears anti-business and is less than supportive.”
Mr Swain said he was also concerned that use of renewables was still not considered as counting towards energy efficiency under the scheme, and that there was only a short application window, May to September this year, for any new entrants wanting to join. “It would be better to enable new entrants to start at any point,” he said.
Meanwhile, the NFU is continuing to push for horticulture to be eligible for ETII help. President Minette Batters said it was irresponsible that the scheme completely overlooks food production, making it ‘wholly at odds’ with government ambitions for more home-grown produce. “An urgent review into the ETII is needed to ensure that vulnerable sectors such as protected horticulture do not face a cliff edge after the end of the energy bill relief scheme,” she said.
Read more news and features from the protected crop industry in our monthly publication The Commercial Greenhouse Grower.