FITs campaigners call on Cameron to secure future of UK solar

Solar industry campaigners are set to deliver a letter to Downing Street later today (December 13) calling on David Cameron and Nick Clegg to secure the future of the UK solar industry and save thousands of jobs.

This latest action by the ‘Cut Don’t Kill’ campaign, formed by a coalition of UK solar power companies, non-governmental organisations and consumers, follows a public rally and demonstration and a request for a legal challenge in the High Court over the 50% cut to the solar Feed-in Tariff (FIT), which came into force yesterday (December 12).

The group is arguing the cuts threaten at least 25,000 jobs in the UK’s “flourishing” renewables industry, putting it at serious risk. It also contests the legality of the decision to cuts tariffs with just six weeks’ notice and before consultation is published.

The letter will be delivered to Number 10 Downing Street by lead spokesperson for the campaign and Solar Trade Association chairman Howard Johns, Solarcentury chairman Jeremy Leggett, Renewable Energy Association chief executive Gaynor Hartnell and Friends of the Earth head of campaigns Andrew Pendleton.

Commenting on the campaign Howard Johns, said: “This cut to the Feed-in Tariff is devastating for our industry, leaving thousands of workers faced with redundancy at Christmas.

“We are calling on David Cameron and Nick Clegg to recognise that solar power is a great UK success story and to destroy the sector now would be totally counterproductive. The Government should assess fully the great contribution solar makes to the UK economy and renewables agenda, and step in to secure the future of this crucial technology.”

The Cut Don’t Kill campaign letter can be viewed below:

“Dear Prime Minister & Deputy Prime Minister,

“Please Act Immediately to Secure our Solar Industry

“Yesterday the Tariff levels for solar power were cut 50% at 6 weeks’ notice and before the close of any consultation. Your ministers have signed off proposals which they anticipate could see the sector reduced to a tenth of its current size, at the cost of tens of thousands of jobs.

“Failure to secure a sensible solution to the unfolding crisis in the solar power industry makes no sense for tax-payers, consumers or voters;

“With stable support, this game-changing technology can deliver subsidy-free green power shortly after this Parliament, empowering consumers and transforming competition in the electricity sector.

“The solar industry will contribute an estimated £276 million to HMT in VAT and employment taxes this year – more than the FIT scheme costs.

“You committed specifically in your Coalition Agreement to increasing opportunities for communities to generate renewable power.Allowing the solar sector to collapse will waste both public investment to date and the opportunity to strengthen the UK’s position in this vital global industry.

“We urge you to intervene and secure sufficient budget (or budget flexibility) to sustain the companies and jobs you have created in the solar power sector until the end of this Parliament.

“Solar power is the UK’s second largest renewable energy resource and the industry has delivered exceptional cost reductions of 30-40% since the start of the FIT scheme. Yet crucial decisions are being taken now without DECC reappraising solar’s potential in the light of this striking industry development. If the UK is to prosper, decision-making must be based on current data and a clear understanding of benefits – we urge you to ensure this happens.

“It is clear to us the UK cannot afford to go backwards on solar power.”

Carys Matthews

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