Solar farms in Somerset 'unlikely' to go ahead

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Solar panels
Image caption,
Several solar farms planned for Somerset will now not go ahead

A solar energy "farm" which was recently given the go-ahead is "highly unlikely" to be built after the government changed its subsidy rate.

Wessex Solar Energy received planning permission for a 5-mega watt farm near the M5 in Bridgwater on Tuesday by Sedgemoor District Council.

The company was relying on a government scheme which saw it paying solar farms money for renewable energy.

The amount paid is set to change from 29.5p per kilowatt (kw) hour to 6p.

Because of this change, many solar farms are trying to be operational by 1 August, before the new tariff starts.

Wessex Solar Energy had wanted to install a solar farm covering 38 acres (15 hectares) in Westonzoyland Road.

Owner Johnny Wearmouth said: "It's not looking promising. It's looking more unlikely than likely.

"If it's not operating by 1 August then it's essentially worthless."

Solar farms which were planned in Ilminster, Tolland, Henstridge, Long Sutton, Castle Cary, and Wiviliscombe have now been scrapped.

Niels Kroener, chief executive of AEE renewables, said he was pulling out of four planned solar farm schemes in Somerset, and said the future for solar power was bleak.

"I think it's really uncertain for us whether it will be viable at all.

"It's terrible news for us because it created a number of jobs and if they go ahead with this [changing the tariff], those positions will not be viable anymore."

The government said the new tariff would be on a par with subsidies paid for large scale offshore wind.

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