This last fortnight has been dominated by the release of our report The Power to Transform the South West, which has revealed the South West has the potential to meet 100% of its energy needs from renewables – and have some left over to export. Also in this edition tax, banking and GMOs.
The Power to Transform the South West
Molly launched the renewable energy report on St George’s day, promising it would slay the nuclear and fossil fuel dragons! The study shows a renewable energy revolution in the region could create 122,000 jobs and add over £4bn a year to the South West economy. The report identifies the potential for renewables across the region as a whole and an analysis of the potential for each county.
The report was released at At-Bristol by Molly, Andrew Clarke – who researched and wrote the report – and two Bristol Green Party candidates, Darren Hall and Tony Dyer.
“The South West has the best renewable resources in Europe. We can give power back to the people in our region. What is broken in Britain is our political system. It is that above all else that stands in our way on the path to a renewable energy revolution, energy security and a prosperous green future.”
VATMOSS – the latest
Molly has welcomed news that the European Commission is likely to follow Green advice and introduce a VAT exemption for all micro businesses across Europe with a turnover of less that €100,000. The Commissioner responsible for the Digital Single Market Strategy has said he wants to introduce such a threshold.
Changes to European VAT rules which came into effect at the beginning of the year are designed to prevent multinational corporations avoiding tax on digital sales in other countries. However, the rules are having a devastating impact on some of the South West’s micro-businesses. It means VAT on digital products sold in the EU is chargeable in the place of purchase rather than the place of supply. This means micro-businesses are obliged to collect VAT from up to 28 different EU states at 75 different rates. Molly says:
“I welcome the fact that the Commission looks set to follow our recommendation on an exemption for businesses with a turnover of less than €100,000 across the whole of Europe. I have written to the Commission seeking clarification on whether and when the exemption would come into force and whether such an exemption will be back-dated to the 1st January 2015. We need to ensure this is brought about as quickly as possible, as it is clear that the VAT rules are hitting small businesses selling digital services online very hard.”
Approval for more GMOs
Greens have said that the Commission’s approval of 10 new GMOs for import go against public wishes. Many of the authorisations apply to protein imports which will be used for animal feed. This represents a missed opportunity for farmers in the South West; home-grown leguminous crops would provide GMO-free alternatives and boost soil quality by fixing nitrogen levels.
Molly, who sits on the European Parliament’s Agricultural Committee, says:
“Giving the go-ahead to these GMOs is an affront to democracy as a majority of EU member states were not in favour of them. We also know that EU citizens continue to say no to GMO. Giving the green light to these GMOs – many of which will end up as animal feed – means we have no way of knowing whether the animals we eat have been fed GMO feed or not; there is no labelling for this. This leaves consumers with only the organic option to truly guarantee GMO free meat.”
Parliament adopts Greens banking report
The European Parliament has adopted a report drafted by the Greens assessing the activities of the European Investment Bank (EIB). The report highlights concerns about transparency and accountability within the bank and some of the projects funded by the EIB. The report is critical of the bank’s role in funding controversial fossil fuel projects and road building and calls for a focus on supporting small-scale renewable energy and energy efficiency projects instead.