Environment groups slam UK's solar subsidy cut

The British government's decision to cut subsidies for solar energy to all except the smallest projects would likely threaten investment and job creation in the alternative energy sector, according to environmental and industry groups.

According to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), a changeover to feed-in tariffs would help continue funding for households to put up panels by diverting them from larger projects.

The chairman of the Solar Trade Association, Howard Johns, accused the treasury of compromising the DECC's ability to respond to developments in the market when the UK should be investing in one of the industries of the future.

He added that burdening solar made zero economic sense for UK plc because it would lose the UK major manufacturing opportunities, jobs and global competitiveness. It also potentially risked locking the UK into more expensive energy options in future, he added.

In fact, he said, investors are leaving the UK, jeopardising major manufacturing opportunities and called on the prime minister, who has solar panels in his house, to intervene to stop the treasury taking short-sighted decisions.

DECC maintains the decision had been taken after a period of consultation as the number of large-scale solar projects eligible for subsidies was far higher than expected.

According to the department's minister, Greg Barker, without action the scheme would be overwhelmed. He added the new tariffs would ensure a sustained growth path for the solar industry while protecting the money for householders, small businesses and communities and would also further encourage the uptake of green electricity.

Feed-in tariffs were introduced last April and more than 40,000 installations have been registered.