Hospitals, community groups, sports clubs and farmers who wanted to join in the green energy revolution by installing solar panels to generate electricity have been kicked in the teeth by changes to Government policy.
Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham raised those concerns and those of the industry after being granted a Westminster Hall today debate to discuss the issues.
Alex argued that Government changes to the Feed-in Tariff, a subsidy which pays people for producing solar energy, will knock the solar industry off-course and potentially end projects like one at Norton Sports complex in his own constituency.
The Government proposes to cut the Feed-in Tariff for projects over 50kW in size, just the size of two tennis courts. This means many community based projects will no longer be viable. Alex said:
“The Government need to admit they got this one very wrong, that they have choked off many schemes at birth, they have turned enthusiastic potential developers away, they have broken promises to the industry, they have lost the opportunity to create thousands of jobs and they have set back our chances of ever meeting our renewable energy targets.”
In response, the Government argued that the current economic climate means the Feed-in Tariff can no longer offer such generous subsidies to medium and large size schemes.
“The fact is that policy at the Department of Energy and Climate Change is being dictated by the Treasury” said Alex after the debate. “The renewable energy industry is really angry that the solar energy sector has been undermined in this way just 11 months after the Feed-in Tariffs were first introduced.”
Alex will continue to put pressure on the Government on this issue, alongside the Renewable Energy Association which says the Government’s proposals mean the industry will be “strangled at birth” and the Solar Trade Association which has called the decision “a total disaster”.