New energy secretary to publish consultation results

New Energy Secretary Ed Davey must announce steps to safeguard the 29,000 solar jobs currently threatened by disastrous Government proposals to reform the solar subsidy scheme when he publishes the results of a public consultation into the plans on Thursday (9 February), says Friends of the Earth.  

The environmental campaigning charity warns that rapid action to sort out the solar chaos Ministers have created must be an urgent priority. As well as safeguarding jobs this would also boost business confidence over the Government’s commitment to a low-carbon future.

Mr Davey is also being urged to abandon plans to appeal to the Supreme Court against a court ruling that Government solar subsidy plans are illegal. Earlier this month the Court of Appeal confirmed that Government proposals to cut solar tariff payments for any scheme completed after 12 December 2011, 11 days before the official consultation ended, was unlawful. It followed a legal challenge by Friends of the Earth and two solar firms, Solarcentury and HomeSun.

A wider review of the Government’s feed-in tariff scheme, which will propose subsidy payment levels for other small-scale clean energy systems – such as wind – along with other reforms, is also due to be published on Thursday.

Friend of the Earth’s Executive Director Andy Atkins said:

“New Energy Secretary Ed Davey must ride to the rescue of thousands of UK solar jobs by insisting on significant changes to Government proposals to overhaul its solar subsidy scheme.

“The response to the public consultation on the disastrous solar subsidy proposals is a golden opportunity to sort out the mess the Coalition has created and re-establish the Government’s commitment to a clean energy future.

“Falling installation costs mean solar subsidies should be cut – but this should be done in a way that protects jobs and allows more cash-strapped households to plug into clean energy.

“Developing the UK’s huge renewable energy potential is essential to tackle the huge damage caused by our dependency on expensive fossil fuels – a clean energy future and a strong economy are two sides of the same coin.”