Campaigners fighting to protect the solar sector and the FiT scheme will hand-deliver a letter signed by over 200 prominent organisations and a 17,000-strong petition to Downing Street today.

The letter and petition will be delivered by REA Chief Executive Gaynor Hartnell, STA Chairman Howard Johns, Friends of the Earth Head of Campaigns Andrew Pendleton, Solarcentury Chairman Jeremy Leggett, and a group of cross-party MPs. The letter and accompanying petition call on David Cameron to step in and safeguard the solar industry from the recent proposed cuts to the feed-in tariff which campaigners believe will jeopardise the fledgling solar industry.

Gaynor Hartnell, Chief Executive of the REA, said: “We are calling on Cameron and Clegg to intervene to ensure a future for solar power beyond April 1, 2012.  An impressive array of select committee chairs, regional politicians, academics, leading environmentalists, NGOs and trades union leaders have joined us in this call.  The cost of solar is falling so dramatically that in about five years’ time it should cost no more to generate one’s own solar power than to buy it from an electricity supply company.  To get there we need commitment and stability, not boom and bust.”

The letter has been signed by over 200 prominent people and organisations, including Jonathon Porritt, Tony Juniper, Frances O’Grady (Deputy General Secretary of the TUC) and Tom Paul (Director of construction giant Kingspan).

A number of Directors for the UK’s largest non-governmental organisations have also declared their support for solar, including Greenpeace, RSPB and 10:10. Several major unions have also signed, alongside several academics from the likes of Oxford University, Imperial College London and Edinburgh University.

Howard Johns, Chair of STA and spokesman for the Cut Don’t Kill Campaign said: “This is not just about a vital high-tech industry fighting for its survival.  This is a grassroots call to Cameron and Clegg to let people continue to drive the green energy revolution through solar.  Our message to Clegg and Cameron is that the solar industry makes economic, social and environmental sense. Destroying it makes no sense at all.” 

The coalition of UK solar power companies, NGOs and consumers behind the campaign are set to deliver the letter to Number 10 at 12:45 today.

The full letter is enclosed below:

Please Act Immediately to Secure our Solar Industry

Yesterday the Tariff levels for solar power were cut 50% at 6 weeks’ notice and before the close of any consultation. Your ministers have signed off proposals which they anticipate could see the sector reduced to a tenth of its current size, at the cost of tens of thousands of jobs.

Failure to secure a sensible solution to the unfolding crisis in the solar power industry makes no sense for tax-payers, consumers or voters;

  • With stable support, this game-changing technology can deliver subsidy-free green power shortly after this Parliament, empowering consumers and transforming competition in the electricity sector.
  • The solar industry will contribute an estimated £276 million to HMT in VAT and employment taxes this year – more than the FIT scheme costs.
  • You committed specifically in your Coalition Agreement to increasing opportunities for communities to generate renewable power.
  • Allowing the solar sector to collapse will waste both public investment to date and the opportunity to strengthen the UK’s position in this vital global industry.

We urge you to intervene and secure sufficient budget (or budget flexibility) to sustain the companies and jobs you have created in the solar power sector until the end of this Parliament.

Solar power is the UK's second largest renewable energy resource and the industry has delivered exceptional cost reductions of 30-40% since the start of the FIT scheme. Yet crucial decisions are being taken now without DECC reappraising solar’s potential in the light of this striking industry development. If the UK is to prosper, decision-making must be based on current data and a clear understanding of benefits – we urge you to ensure this happens.

It is clear to us the UK cannot afford to go backwards on solar power.

Yours sincerely