Anyone involved in the hydro sector will be well aware of the long-running saga relating to business rates which has now been going on for a decade – twice as long as the First World War! There is no need to rehearse the detail of the process but suffice to say the disagreement in valuation methodology was first raised in connection with the 2010 revaluation.

The case has been considered three times by the Valuation Appeal Committee for Tayside and twice appealed to the Lands Valuation Appeal Court (Court of Session).

In the intervening period the Scottish Government has undertaken significant reform of the process by which a ratepayer can dispute the assessor’s valuation and indeed the Valuation Appeal Committee that diligently gave consideration to this disagreement on multiple occasions has been abolished, doubtless much to its members’ relief.

The disagreement between the ratepayers and the assessor relates to the correct interpretation of The Valuation for Rating (Plant and Machinery) (Scotland) Regulations, a complex instrument which determines the rateability of assets that are neither lands nor heritages i.e. physical equipment in or on a non-domestic property, other than the structures or buildings themselves We expect the next action in this saga to be a case before the Upper Tribunal, a court which has taken over responsibility for rating matters from the Lands Tribunal for Scotland before which the majority of hydro ratepayers have appeals relating to the 2017 Revaluation.

Galbraith has been at the centre of this dispute since the beginning and we continue to represent the vast majority of hydro operators in Scotland. We continue to act on behalf of the industry and look forward to reporting further on this matter.

If this brief update raises any questions, please direct them to the author.

To read the latest news and views from our experts in Energy Matters | Winter edition 2023/24