Shadow energy minister Caroline Flint has tonight called on the supporters of the ClickGreen ‘Save Our Solar’ campaign to keep battling against Feed-in Tariff cut plans, saying “with your help, it is a fight we must win”.
The MP told ClickGreen how the planned 50 per cent reduction due to come into effect from December 12, would “restrict solar to the well-off” and added “that cannot be right”.
The shadow secretary of state for energy described how support for the ClickGreen campaign, which started last weekend, was crucial in helping her secure a 45-minute debate in the Commons on 31 October to force energy minister Greg Barker to explain the detail behind his decision.
And she said people would think the stated consultation period to debate the proposed reduction from the current 43.3p/kWh to 21p on December 12 was “just a sham” and they would be “right to fear this government is going to force through its plans whatever anyone says”.
Tonight, Ms Flint said: “Since news of the government’s cuts to Feed-in Tariffs leaked over the weekend, hundreds of you have contacted me, and thousands more have signed a petition calling on this government to think again.
“Your support was crucial in helping me to secure an urgent question in Parliament on Monday to make sure MPs had the chance to debate and question the government’s proposals.
“Labour’s position is clear: we started the process of Feed-in Tariffs when we were in government and we remain proud of it.
“It may have needed adjustment as costs fell, but this government has messed around with it repeatedly, given out mixed messages and left 25,000 workers in a high-tech industry of the future facing the dole.
“Last year, the solar industry employed 3,000 people in 450 businesses. Today, it employs 25,000 people in 3,000 businesses. With growth flat-lining everywhere else, the cuts to Feed-in Tariffs threaten to strangle at birth the solar industry.
“It’s also a kick in the teeth for families who want to do the right thing by investing in solar. The government’s plans mean that nearly 9 out of 10 families would be excluded from having solar power, and will guarantee that lower-income households will lose out, as fewer firms offer the lifetime deals that are currently available, restricting solar to the well-off. That cannot be right.
“The government claims that installation costs have fallen by 30 per cent – but their plans will cut tariffs by more than 50 per cent, with no regard for the number of jobs and businesses that will go to the wall.
“Even if the tariffs do need to be reduced, it makes no sense to force through the changes so quickly, when they could be managed in a much more sensible way, giving businesses the time they need to adjust.
“By bringing in the reduced tariffs nearly 2 weeks before the consultation has even finished, people are right to wonder whether this consultation is just a sham and right to fear this government is going to force through its plans whatever anyone says.
“In opposition, the Conservatives promised a more ambitious scheme of Feed-in Tariffs. Monday’s announcement is just another broken promise. Labour is fighting to protect the Feed-in Tariffs we introduced from being killed off.
“With thousands of jobs and businesses on the line, our commitment to meeting our targets for renewable energy and reductions in carbon emissions in doubt, and with your help, it is a fight we must win.”
More details on the campaign can be found in the next issue of Renewable Energy Installer Magazine.