Kent

Ashford Borough Council's £1.2m solar panel plan axed

Plans for a £1.2m scheme to install solar panels on council buildings have been scrapped by a local authority.

Ashford Borough Council said it was no longer viable after the government announced it would cut subsidies sooner than expected.

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

The council accused the government of "shifting the goalposts".

Under the FiT scheme, householders, businesses or local authorities are paid a rate for the clean energy they generate.

The Tory-run authority said it was planning to spend £1.2m in the hope of recouping £3.6m over 25 years, but the scheme was now too risky to pursue.

'Real shame'

Councillor Jessamy Blandford said: "I am personally disappointed that we have to give the scheme up but the figures do not add up."

Liz Hutchins, from the charity Friends of the Earth, said the government's decision had prompted similar action by councils and community groups across England.

"That's a real shame because the scheme has been a massive success since it was introduced last year," she said.

The government has said the plummeting costs of installing solar equipment meant it had to act to ensure the scheme remained viable over the long-term.

Energy Minister Greg Barker told the Commons last month the scheme was resulting in returns for investors that were "not sustainable".

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