Barnsley Council has been forced to suspend plans to fit solar on more than 5,000 council houses and other public buildings following cuts to the feed-in tariff.

In August last year Barnsley Council outlined ambitions to install solar on as many as 5,000 council houses and local buildings under a new scheme dubbed ‘Energise Barnsley’.

More than £16 million in funding had been set aside, with surplus income generated via feed-in tariff payments used to support community projects in the area.

Energise Barnsley was established as a community benefit society to finance the installation and maintenance of the installations, however Barnsley residents would also have been allowed to participate in a community share offer to provide annual returns of around 5%.

At the time Sir Steve Houghton, leader of Barnsley Council, said that the project stood to have a “big impact” on local communities. However an event to formally launch the project was organised for just a day after the government outlined plans to radically cut the feed-in tariff by as much as 87%.

Since then the Department of Energy and Climate Change has relented slightly and initiated a new rate of 4.39p/kWh for installations of up to 10kW in size – representative of cuts of around 65% – however the reduction has still been enough to see many projects fall through.

While the project has suspended future installs, it did manage to fit solar on more than 300 council houses which will benefit from free electricity, and around 90 other public buildings will still receive installations due to them being pre-accredited under the old rate.