Image: Greenpeace.

A petition urging chancellor Philip Hammond to stop the business rates hike on solar installs, signed by more than 200,000 people, has been delivered to HM Treasury this morning.

Greenpeace started the petition last year, asking the chancellor to intervene in a proposed increase in rateable values attached to rooftop solar installations which could see payable business rates soar by as much as 800%.

The campaign to halt the increase has been waged since last summer and is now approaching its final throes, with Hammond preparing to deliver his maiden spring budget as chancellor next Wednesday.

The budget would provide Hammond the perfect opportunity to introduce legislation to prevent the increase and solve a row which has more recently grown in prominence and led to suggestions of a rift within the Conservative benches.

Greenpeace and the Solar Trade Association delivered the petition this morning with the help of pupils from Eleanor Palmer Primary school in Camden, London.

Nina Schrank, energy campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said that while other countries were “making positive strides” in solar the UK government is “going backwards”.

“Schools, hospitals and businesses have installed solar panels to generate their own clean electricity. It's ludicrous that they should be unfairly taxed, making their solar projects financially unviable in many cases,” she said.

The STA has been a prominent campaigner on the issue to date and was pivotal in securing a concession for installations designed primarily for export last year.

Chief executive Paul Barwell said that the chancellor would be doing “the right thing” by dropping the increase next week.

“If we want a modern, clean economy it makes no sense to load crippling business rates on the very people who are taking care to invest in our future. These self-defeating proposals couldn't come at a worse time for the solar industry – rooftop solar deployment is at a six year low. The last thing solar needs right now is an extreme and nonsensical tax hike,” he added.