Community energy co-operatives secure Fair Tax Mark

Westmill Wind Farm and Westmill Solar become the first community energy co-ops to be awarded the accreditation

Westmill Wind Farm and Westmill Solar Farm in Oxfordshire have been awarded the Fair Tax Mark certification.

The Mark recognises organisations that demonstrate they are paying the right amount of corporation tax in the right place, at the right time – and the pair are the first two community energy co-operatives to receive the independent certification.

Westmill Wind Farm was the first 100% community-owned onshore wind farm to be built in the south of England. Its five turbines came online in 2008 and produce low-carbon electricity equivalent to that used by over 2,500 households per annum.

Westmill Solar began operating in 2012 and was, at the time, the world’s largest co-operatively run, community-owned solar park. It is made up of 20,000 polycrystalline PV panels that generate the equivalent of the annual electricity consumption of over 1,600 homes.

They are co-located on agricultural land in Oxfordshire and pursued Fair Tax Mark certification in parallel. More than 55 businesses have now been certified. These include national brands such as Timpson, Lush, and Richer Sounds, FTSE listed companies including SSE and Marshalls Plc., as well as co-operatives, family businesses and social enterprises.

Mark Luntley, chair of Westmill Wind Farm, said: “We are delighted to have jointly received this accreditation with Westmill Solar Coop. Taxes are the price of a civilised society, they pay for the public services we all use. As member co-operatives we see paying correct taxes as part of our commitment to the seventh co-operative principle – concern for community.”

Tom Parkinson, chair of Westmill Solar, added: “The Westmill energy co-operatives were founded to pioneer a cleaner energy system and a more sustainable world. A fair ax system is essential to both – and so something that all organisations should crave.”

Polling commissioned by the Fair Tax Mark from ICM in 2020 found record levels of post-covid concern among the public about the use of tax avoidance practices by business in the UK. Over three-quarters of people responded said that they would rather shop with (79%) or work for (82%) a business that can prove it is paying its fair share of tax. Eight in ten people (82%) believe businesses benefiting from Government bailouts should be forced to agree terms that prohibit tax avoidance and enforce responsible tax conduct.

“Westmill Wind and Westmill Solar are inspiring co-operatives that demonstrate a deep commitment to responsible tax conduct, and grasp how important this is to the UK’s transition to a low-carbon economy,” said Paul Monaghan, chief executive, Fair Tax Mark.

“Their certification has been supported by Energy4All (who were accredited in 2019) and Ethex. The public rightly expects responsible behaviour, but far too often they’re reading headlines that describe the tactics businesses employ to avoid contributing the tax they should to the public purse. It is estimated that annually, due to corporate profits being shifted to tax havens, corporate tax revenue losses in the UK amount to at least £7bn.

“Just think of the nurses, doctors and teachers we could employ, or the renewable energy infrastructure we could build if that tax was paid as it should be?”

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