MP Offers No Support for Local Solar Businesses
Spirit Solar Managing Director Erica Robb is furious at the lack of interest shown by Reading West MP Alok Sharma in the appalling situation facing local solar panel companies as a result of the cuts in the Feed-in Tariff (FiT). The support payments for new installations were due to fall from April 2012 but now are to be slashed from 12th December.
The haste with which the cuts were introduced showed complete disregard for the effects on businesses, jobs, and prospective customers. When confronted about the cuts by Erica Robb, the Reading MP’s only response was to say if she didn’t like the government’s actions she should not vote for it in 2015.
Erica Robb, MD of the Portman Road, Reading, company said:
"It is frankly unbelievable that any government would be so irresponsible as to give a fledgling industry (that has created 39,000 jobs in a year or so) six weeks’ notice to accommodate such fundamental changes."
"We estimate our losses from the fiasco at £80,000. We have already had to make three people redundant. Some newer, smaller companies which had invested to meet expected sales before next April will have been hit much harder."
"We have a 14 week marketing pipeline. The government have no grasp of what it costs a business to be given 6 weeks’ notice to install a 10 week order book. We lost on higher stock costs, higher labour costs, and aborted marketing / technical assessment work for projects which couldn't be completed in the timescale."
She also commented that costs to the industry have fallen so prices can be reduced and solar power will still be economically viable for many people and businesses at the lower FiT rate. However the government’s reckless behaviour has completely undermined confidence in the industry. It will also undermine investor confidence in any subsidies that the government may propose in the future, whether for solar or for any other sector.
Friends of the Earth is taking the Government to court over the timescale of the consultation into the cuts which ends on 23rd December – eleven days after the cuts come into effect.
John Booth of Reading Friends of the Earth added:
"It is disgraceful for the government to cut the FiT before the end of their ‘consultation’ exercise. It should start again with a new twelve-week consultation on changes to take effect from April."
"We agree that the FiT rates should be reduced, but in a planned way that relies on evidence of reducing costs, not a series of stop-start lurches that are devastating to those trying to build businesses and create jobs in the industry."
The CBI has condemned the move as an "own goal" by Ministers.
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