SCOTLAND’S 2017 rates revaluation will change Rateable Values and include property interests which have not previously been subject to rates – a change that is causing unrest in the rural renewables sector.
Jonathan Guest of Savills rural team highlighted the wide range of effects arising from the revaluation: “Some rural properties have incurred negligible increases, whilst others including renewables and minerals are showing very large increases, in some cases over 400%. 
“The Sporting RV’s are not included in the current valuation roll – these are expected to be added after April 2017 and backdated. Some commentators are also concerned that the reintroduction of sporting rates will be followed by removal of relief for agricultural land.
“The assessors are still refining some of the methodologies for valuation and guidance notes are still under review,” he noted. “All property occupiers subject to rates should review the draft RV for their property on the Scottish Assessors Association website at the earliest opportunity. If the RV confirmed on the valuation notice issued before April is considered unreasonable, an appeal should be lodged within six months.”
The new business rates regime seems to have marked out small scale hydro-power for “special punishment”, according to Alba Energy, which represents Scotland’s small-scale hydro operators.
It warned that small hydro-businesses now face an increase in rates of up to 650%, with bills on some sites rising to as much as a quarter of their total turnover, threatening some with insolvency, and casting doubt on the long-term financial sustainability of the rest.
An average hydro scheme such as the 500kW Buckny Hydro in Perthshire has seen its draft valuation rise from £32,000 to £93,000, a sum that represents 29% of its overall turnover. The worst hit schemes have seen increases up to seven times their original value, with rateable valuations of up to 50% of turnover. The 1.9MW Ederline scheme on the banks of Loch Awe had a previous valuation of £98,000, now revised upwards to £405,000.
Alba chairman Martin Foster said: “We are not seeking special treatment. We want to know why we have been singled out for special punishment. Hydro is the original renewable energy: the cleanest, most efficient, least obtrusive and longest-lasting. Yet ScotGov has facilitated a rates regime that will cripple the independent hydro industry it once claimed to support.”