Massive gas bill increases of up to 300 per cent are beginning to hit the industry as it seeks to reduce energy costs.
Managing director Terry Burch of Kent’s Bybrook Barn Garden Centre was astonished when his latest quarterly gas bill was £6,000 — up from £2,000 for similar usage in the same quarter last year.
He believes prices will remain high and the bill is one of the reasons he has dropped a planned £250,000 extension and opted not to replace two staff.
Mayflower Nursery company administrator Sue Evans said using propane gas and diesel and introducing energy conservation measures kept costs down, but they had still risen by 10 per cent. She has also noticed price increases in many gardening products, which would be passed to consumers.
Yoder Toddington managing director Patrick Bastow said fuel costs were well above budget: “With some crops, such as poinsettias, chrysanthemums and anything that needs to be heated above 19°C, it makes you wonder if they’re viable in the future.”
Fleurie Nursery general manager Andrew Henry is a member of the Farplants co-operative. He said the group’s buying power led to savings on fuel but a 37 per cent increase in gas oil still had a significant impact on members.
Bridge Greenhouses managing director Ben Smith said new greenhouses with thermal screens were more efficient and could halve energy bills. He believes energy prices will remain higher in the medium term, leading to more interest in forms of renewable energy.
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