Berkshire

Solar subsidy cut 'scuppers' Reading council plan

Plans to cut subsidies to homeowners with solar panels sooner than expected will have a "drastic" affect on plans in Reading, according to the council.

Councillor Paul Gittings, said the rug had been "pulled from under the feet" of its £5m scheme.

On Monday the government said it would almost halve the subsidy, known as the Feed in Tariff (FiT), on 12 December rather than 31 March as expected.

It insisted urgent action was needed to protect the wider FiT scheme.

The council had planned to help about 40 schools in the town to get free electricity while the council would have benefited from money generated by the FiTs.

It also had arrangements to put solar panels on community buildings, small local businesses and other council stock.

'Rug pulled'

Mr Gittings, the Labour councillor for environment and climate change, said the decision had "effectively scuppered" the scheme.

"We had a very good project planned, it was all geared to March 31st and suddenly we had the rug pulled from under our feet by the government deciding to make this December the 12th," he said.

He urged ministers to reconsider this "arbitrary cut off date" because it would throw the fledging industry into chaos.

But speaking on Monday Energy Minister, Greg Barker, said: "My priority is to put the solar industry on a firm footing so that it can remain a successful and prosperous part of the green economy, and so that it doesn't fall victim to boom and bust.

"The plummeting costs of solar means we've got no option but to act so that we stay within budget and not threaten the whole viability of the FiTs scheme.

"Although I fully realise that adjusting to the new lower tariffs will be a big challenge for many firms, it won't come as a surprise to many in the solar industry who've themselves acknowledged the big fall in costs and the big increase in their rate of return over the past year."

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