Page last updated at 13:50 GMT, Thursday, 19 June 2008 14:50 UK

Lib Dems plan green firms' rebate

Solar panels
Mr Clegg says a fast track process is needed for environmental changes

Firms that "green" their premises with energy-saving improvements should be offered a rebate or reduced bill, Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg says.

He says he could see the "green" business rate working in the same way as some councils give rebates to families who insulate their homes.

"We have to make things easier for companies that want to do the right thing," he said in a speech.

Mr Clegg outlined his proposals at a joint press event with Greenpeace.

He said the challenge of meeting Britain's energy needs was a choice between old technologies like gas, nuclear and coal, and "a green future" based on clean technologies.

Insulation

A report by Greenpeace provides "compelling evidence" that low carbon energy "is deliverable now", he will say.

While he accepts that economic uncertainty has meant families and businesses feeling "they cannot afford to go green", his party will focus on how it can "incentivise green behaviour" rather than "penalising pollution".

I'd like us to look at 'green' business rates too - offering a rebate, or reduced bill, for businesses that green their premises
Nick Clegg
Lib Dem leader

"We need huge policy shifts to transform the investment landscape and make things like combined heat and power, carbon capture and renewables appealing," he said.

"Some councils have pioneered council tax rebates for families who insulate their homes.

"I'd like us to look at 'green' business rates too - offering a rebate, or reduced bill, for businesses that green their premises."

The planning system needs to work "to help businesses who want to make green improvements, be they insulation or micro generation".

The supermarket chain Tesco is "greening" its estate by using entry lobbies to provide insulation and moves towards the use of wind turbines and biomass generation at many of its 2,000 stores and depots, he said.

Emissions trading

Meanwhile the government is paying a 9 billion subsidy to energy companies at a time when millions of British families are struggling to pay their bills.

The utility firms received the multi-billion pound windfall under the European Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), he said.

He will call for the climate change levy exemption for combined heat and power (CHP) to be extended beyond 2012, to give investors security.

"Let's see how we can take heat into account in the ETS, so the carbon impact of CHP is recognised," he said.


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