Ed Miliband fights back against FiT cuts

Labour leader Ed Miliband has today signed an Early Day Motion (EDM) calling on the Coalition to scrap plans to cut the feed-in tariff for solar photovoltaics installations over 50kW. The EDM was signed alongside Labour’s Rosie Winteron and the Shadow Energy and Climate Change team of Meg Hillier, Luciana Berger and Huw Irranca-Davies.

The motion urges Government to rethink its decision to go ahead with debilitating cuts of up to 70%, stating that “the Draft Modifications to the Standard Conditions of Electricity Supply Licenses, a copy of which was laid before this House on 9 June 2011, be not approved.”

Since the fast-track review was announced Government has been under a tremendous amount of scrutiny from the solar industry, yet it stood firm in its opinion that the cuts had to go ahead. The Coalition’s main argument throughout the FiT cut saga has always been that this was a system inherited from the Labour Government, where Miliband was in fact Energy and Climate Change Secretary. The new Labour leader will now go against the policy he introduced.

“Minister Greg Barker’s decision to go ahead with the proposed dramatic feed-in tariff reductions for community, school and hospital schemes is a big blow to British industry and betrays the Government's promise to be ‘the greenest Government ever’,” said Irranca-Davies.

“A decision such as this which fundamentally alters the future for the solar industry in the UK deserves real debate, where MPs can question the minister on his rash and ill-thought out decision. It should not be snuck quietly through the Commons.”

"The Coalition Government would be making a terrible mistake to sacrifice the UK solar industry, and this needs proper parliamentary debate," said Howard Johns, Chairman of the Solar Trade Association.

"The debate should focus on the true potential of solar to the UK based on current costs and jobs and manufacturing opportunities."

Miliband’s EDM comes as a group of 11 companies that had been seeking to overturn the feed-in tariff cuts confirmed that they have been forced to drop the case as the earliest slot the courts could offer was October. As a result the group has decided to withdraw the case, citing concerns over legal costs and fears that the courts would be unlikely to overturn the decision, which is due to take effect on August 1.

"We are incredibly disappointed, but we are going through the process of withdrawing the case," the spokeswoman said.

The industry met just days ago to discuss the future of an industry without subsidy.