Cuts to Solar Power

Many constituents have contacted me recently regarding the Government’s proposal to cut support for Feed-in Tariffs (FITs).

I share their concerns about the Government’s proposal, which will see the standard FIT reduced from 12.47p/kWh (the rate that is due to take effect from 1 October 2015) to 1.63p/kWh from 1 January 2016. As you may be aware, this is an 87% reduction in the rate for small installations. It is also 96% lower than the original tariff of 43p/kWh established by the previous Labour Government when the FIT scheme came into operation in April 2010.

I support the development of renewable power generation and I am proud of the previous Labour Government’s strong record in this area. The Labour Government doubled the UK’s renewable energy capacity and introduced the Feed-in Tariff scheme to incentivise and reward people for investing in low carbon, renewable energy. The scheme has been very successful. Indeed, the current Government state that 700,000 installations registered for the scheme during its first five years up to April 2015.

While I appreciate that renewables should move towards being free of subsidy, the Feed-in-Tariff should have been reduced more gradually.  I therefore believe that the speed and scale of the Coalition Government’s cuts during the last Parliament and the very significant cuts being proposed by the current Government are likely to cost jobs and investment in the green economy.

I share concerns that, despite promising a solar revolution, the current Government has undermined solar energy, which is one of the cheapest forms of clean energy. The UK has fallen behind France, India and Japan in terms of renewable energy investment attractiveness.

I am also concerned that the inevitable uncertainty across the renewables sector will undermine the UK’s ability to meet its climate change commitments, and that by hampering the development of cheap forms of clean energy, consumer bills will rise rather than fall.

Prior to the election, my Shadow Frontbench colleagues committed to work with the solar industry to provide the stable environment it needs in order to thrive.

I hope the current Government will listen to the concerns that have been raised by the solar industry and organisations such as Friends of the Earth.


Hilary Benn
MP for Leeds Central

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