An article in today's Guardian quoted Prospect's concerns about the impact of an environmental tax on research institutions trying to find ways of reducing carbon emissions. Some organisations must find hundreds of thousands of pounds to settle green tax bills, putting jobs and research at risk.
The article's author Ian Sample reports that Culham Centre for Fusion Energy in Oxfordshire is among the worst hit, facing a payment of about £400,000 next year. The lab operates the Joint European Torus (JET), the largest fusion reactor in Europe. Nuclear fusion has the potential to be one of the key sources of carbon-free energy for the future. Another laboratory in Oxford, Diamond Light Source, expects a £300,000 bill.
Prospect head of research Sue Ferns has called on the government to exempt energy use from the tax – which forms part of the government's carbon reduction commitment scheme – where the focus of research contributes directly to public good and government policy.
She told the Guardian: “This [tax] will have a negative impact on important research into low carbon energy sources and that cannot be the right consequence of a policy the government is pursuing to promote a low carbon economy.
“There is a potential for the scheme to impact on employment and it adds to pressures to run the equipment less. Even if it doesn't lead to substantial job losses, these are world-class scientists and every job, every piece of research makes a difference.”