Berkshire tropical animal park calls fuel scheme ‘false promise’

Blue poison dart frogIMAGE SOURCE,ELLIE PINCHESImage caption,
The Living Rainforest hosts more than 850 species of animals and plantsA tropical animal centre has said it is struggling to pay its “crippling” energy bills after failing to qualify for government support.
The Living Rainforest, in Hampstead Norreys, Berkshire, said fuel costs had more than doubled since June 2022.It said the government’s Energy Bills Discount Scheme set high thresholds for help and “felt like a false promise”.The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) said it was offering “unprecedented” support.

The 12-month discount scheme, introduced in April, is designed to help businesses and other organisations.Karl HansenIMAGE SOURCE,KARL HANSENImage caption,

The centre’s chief executive Karl Hansen said the government scheme was “not very generous”
Mr Hansen said: “Since the Ukraine war, our energy costs have gone through the roof.

“It took us months to jump through all the application hoops and we were finally informed that we were eligible for the scheme in September 2023 and given a certificate to prove it.”Despite our electricity charge… having risen by two to three times, our electricity supplier recently informed us that we’re still below the government-mandated threshold above which an energy discount actually becomes payable.”So despite being eligible, it looks like we won’t get any energy bill discount from the scheme.”It just feels like a false promise, really. I guess it’s not very generous.”Mr Hansen said the visitor attraction was paying £9,000 a month for electricity on a three-year contract.The centre, which hosts more than 850 species of animals and plants, has appealed for donations from supporters.

In a statement, DESNZ said: “We acted swiftly when energy prices peaked to provide businesses with unprecedented support, saving them £7bn and enabling some to only pay around half of predicted wholesale energy costs.”Our support is continuing through to 31 March 2024 with our Energy Bills Discount Scheme – allowing eligible organisations to get a discount on their energy bills.”

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