Campaigners Urge Government Not To Turn Lights Out On Solar Energy
Representatives of local businesses, community groups and housing providers will meet John Leech MP on Friday 18 November to highlight the devastating impact that the Government’s proposal to slash support for solar energy is having in South Manchester.
Friends of the Earth was instrumental in persuading the Government to introduce a feed-in tariff – a financial incentive for households and communities to generate their own renewable electricity – in April 2010. The solar industry has grown rapidly since then and now supports 25,000 jobs in 4,000 businesses across the UK.
The Government recently launched a consultation on plans to cut the feed-in tariff for solar panels by more than half for installations completed after 12 December.  The CBI has condemned the move as an “own goal” by Ministers. 
Friends of the Earth is taking the Government to court on the grounds that this cut-off point, two weeks before the consultation ends, is unlawful and has evidence that projects are already being abandoned and solar firm redundancies have either taken place or are being urgently considered. 
Stephen Beech from Beech Solar said:
“This has a massive impact on us as a solar installer as we’ve recently taken on new staff to carry out installations with our order book increasing daily. We’ll be forced to lay off these staff come December.
“Also, as a landlord, it prevents us developing any more energy efficient properties. We won the UK’s best energy efficient refurbishment award this year by increasing our properties’ energy efficiency (EPC) rating from a G to an A. This announcement effectively stops us renovating any more as I simply couldn’t afford to do so.
“As well the negative effect this has on my business, it will disappoint the hundreds of tenants who are queuing up for energy efficient properties to lessen the impact of spiralling energy prices.”
Ali Abbas, lead climate campaigner at Manchester Friends of the Earth, said:
“This sudden and savage cut to support for solar energy is putting jobs at risk and threatening community projects in South Manchester and beyond.
“It beggars belief that the Government is pulling the plug on one of the rare economic success stories of recent years.
“We’re calling on John Leech to support our Final Demand campaign to save the feed-in tariff and hold a public inquiry into the behaviour of the Big Six energy companies.”
To sign Friends of the Earth’s Final Demand, go to www.foe.co.uk/finaldemand
To support Carbon Co-op’s application for funding from Energyshare, go to www.energyshare.com/voting
NOTES TO THE EDITOR
1. On Monday 31 October 2011 the Government launched a public consultation on plans to slash small-scale solar power subsidies by more than 50 per cent: http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/news/pn11_091/pn11_091.aspx
2. The Government’s decision to slash solar funding was described by the CBI as an ‘own goal’ last week (Thursday 10 November 2011): http://www.cbi.org.uk/media-centre/speeches/2011/11/john-cridlands-speech-to-cbi-east-midlands-annual-dinner/
3. Friends of the Earth says the Government’s actions are unlawful because:
- It will unfairly cause the abandonment of numerous planned solar schemes that would have been completed between 12 December and April 2012;
- The wording used in the Government proposals indicates there is little prospect that Ministers will keep an open mind about representations made while the consultation period is ongoing – something they are legally obliged to do.
4. Friends of the Earth is calling on the Government to:
- maintain existing tariff payments to all qualifying solar schemes completed by 1 April 2011;
- extend the consultation period to Friday 17th February 2012, at the earliest.
5. Beech Solar provides a consultation and installation service for solar PV panels on residential and commercial properties. To learn more please visit http://www.beechsolar.co.uk
6. Carbon Co-op aims to make it simple, cheap and easy for households, streets and neighbourhoods to come together to retrofit their houses through the purchase of low-carbon and energy-saving equipment. For more information, visit http://carbon.coop
7. Manchester Friends of the Earth is an award-winning environmental campaign group, raising awareness and lobbying for policy changes at a local, regional, national and international level. The group consists entirely of volunteers, and its campaigns are funded by membership fees and individual donations. Up-to-date information is available on the group’s website: https://www.manchesterfoe.org.uk. Manchester Friends of the Earth is a Licensed Local Group of Friends of the Earth, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
8. Manchester Friends of the Earth has endorsed Manchester: A Certain Future, an action plan for the city of Manchester to cut its carbon emissions by at least 41% by 2020. For more information, visit http://www.manchesterclimate.com