THE Federation of Small Businesses wants a helping hand from Government as Huntingdonshire’s small businesses look to go green, without going into the red.

THE Federation of Small Businesses wants a helping hand from Government as Huntingdonshire's small businesses look to go green, without going into the red.

Companies in Huntingdonshire want to become more environmentally-friendly, but face difficulties with costs in even getting started, says the FSB.

As a result, it is calling on the Government to make going green more attractive, by expanding the current 0 per cent loan scheme for energy-efficient equipment, providing incentives for firms and landlords, and waiving rate increases for those who raise their rateable value by "greening" their premises.

The calls have come from the publication of an FSB report entitled "Making sense of going green - small businesses and low carbon economy", which looks at how Britain's small businesses will contribute to the country's aim of cutting carbon emissions by 20 per cent by 2020.

The interest-free loan scheme for green equipment operates on a "pay as you save" basis, allowing firms to realise a genuine cost saving through energy efficiency without incurring an upfront cost.

The FSB also wants Government to engage with the private sector to cut their emissions.

With nearly half of the UK's emissions coming from buildings, urgent action could cut the figures significantly. Yet 44 per cent of small businesses rent their premises, often making them reluctant to make the building environmentally-friendly if they are only using the premises for a short period of time.

The FSB believes this could be achieved by:

- Incentivising private sector providers - such as banks, energy or construction companies - to pay the upfront costs of major building energy efficiency upgrades.

- Guaranteeing "pay as you save" repayments through energy bills, as linking the responsibility of repayment to the building would help overcome the landlord/tenant divide

- Supporting new business owners to "green" their buildings by encouraging firms in the worst G-rated buildings to take steps to move to an F-rating.

- Not penalising those who increase their rateable value through greening their premises by waiving the increased business rates.

Malcolm Lyons, FSB Huntingdonshire chairman, said: "The need to cut carbon emissions and the predicted increase in the cost of energy over the coming decade means that the move to a low carbon economy is more of an economic imperative than ever.

"In order to achieve the tough targets set by the Government, it must ensure that it makes economic sense for the UK's 4.8 million small firms to go green. Small businesses can play a huge part in the UK's fight against climate change and we urge the Government to harness this potential when it publishes its Energy Bill, expected later this Parliament.

"If the correct policies are put in place now, then small businesses will have the potential to significantly reduce carbon emissions while also delivering the substantial economic growth that the UK economy desperately needs."