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Brexit 'could cause UK to turn its back on sustainable energy'
Published:  24 February, 2016

Yorkshire Heat Pumps has warned that the UK could turn its back on an accountable commitment to sustainable energy if the UK votes to leave the UK in the coming referendum.

Michael Wright, of Yorkshire Heat Pumps, a vote to leave Europe could mean the UK turning its back on an accountable commitment to sustainable energy.

Yorkshire Heat Pumps has installed ground and air source heat pumps and biomass boilers in both domestic properties and commercial settings throughout Yorkshire. Many of its customers are benefitting from the government's Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme, which the company's Michael Wright believes may come under threat if Britain votes to leave Europe.

While the government is committed to the RHI up to 2021, it will be reformed next year and there is uncertainty over how the incentive scheme will look post 2017.

Mr Wright said: "When Britain goes to the polls to decide whether or not to stay in the EU, for some the primary concern will be immigration, and for others it will be about our national sovereignty, but for me, the whole issue of how serious we are about climate change is also at stake.

"Stay in the EU and renewables have some protection as the UK is signed up to policies to deliver 15% of the UK's energy demand from renewable sources by 2020 and reduce carbon emissions by 40% by 2030. Leave the EU and a layer of accountability for the future of our planet could disappear overnight.

"If we fail to meet our carbon reduction responsibilities, we face massive fines from Europe. This is obviously a strong argument in favour of keeping the RHI scheme, under which many homeowners and businesses can expect to recoup the cost of switching to a renewable energy heating system in just a few years.

"If RHI goes then so does a major incentive for our customers to invest in green technologies and, with it, a more sustainable future for everyone."

Conversely, the UK leaving the EU might also bring a benefit for those investing in renewables, in the form of a reduced rate of VAT.

Mr Wright said: "The European Court of Justice has ruled that our reduced five per cent VAT rate on domestic renewable energy heating installations is unlawful. As a result our government is forced to put this rate up to 20% later this year, which could add thousands of pounds to the cost of going green. Leaving Europe could put our VAT rate back in our hands."

Picture (by Stephen Garnett) shows Michael and Kate Wright.