The UK government announced that the new Energy Bills Discount Scheme is set to replace current energy support for businesses. Unfortunately, this leaves many farmers and growers in a vulnerable position, with farm-level sectors left out of additional support. The new support will take over from the current Energy Bill Relief Scheme (EBRS), which is due to end in March 2023.
Under the EDBS, there is no longer a price cap, with businesses instead receiving a discount if their contract energy price is above a certain threshold price. The new scheme offers markedly less protection from volatile energy markets and does little to create certainty for businesses.
Responding to the announcement on the EBDS, NFU President Minette Batters expressed her disappointment over the lack of support for primary food production sectors, “especially given the vulnerability of protected horticulture and poultry production – two sectors that are energy and trade intensive.”
“The omission of horticulture is particularly frustrating. What is the justification for botanical gardens to be included in the scheme but not food grown in glasshouses?”
Mrs. Batters highlighted how the NFU has repeatedly made the case that energy prices are threatening next year’s crop of tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers and pointed out how the changes to support seem at odds with the government’s ambitions to grow more fruit and vegetables, according to its National Food Strategy.