PM fails to fix Solar Europa mega-deal

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A Barnsley MP says he is frustrated and baffled by the hold up in a £4.5bn solar panel deal - despite the personal intervention of Prime Minister David Cameron.

Dan Jarvis, MP for Barnsley Central, says he has had almost daily contact with Number 10 after raising the Solar Europa deal in Parliament at the beginning of February.

But he says the delay has not been sorted despite a letter from the PM pledging help ‘at the highest levels’.

The Barnsley firm has signed a deal with the Turkish Government for what will be the world’s largest solar farm. But trade agreements between the British and Turkish governments have not been signed due to Whitehall red-tape, Dan Jarvis claims.

The creation of hundreds of skilled jobs in Barnsley and Wrexham were hanging in the balance, he added.

“My understanding is it should have been a formality. The contract was signed some time ago. I’m very frustrated that several weeks have passed and this has not been resolved, despite the PM’s constructive tone.

“I will continue to press this - it’s a hugely valuable contract for the region. We can’t afford to lose it. We’re talking high skilled jobs in a growth industry.

“It’s a global market and if we don’t get this contract a lot of other countries are queuing up and the jobs will go elsewhere. That’s never acceptable, but in the current economic climate it’d be even worse.

“If we do get it and successfully deliver the goods it could lead to further investment and make our reputation - but it works both ways.

“Failure runs the risk of damage to our international credibility. This has already taken a desperately long time. Given the stakes are so high it should have been resolved within days.

“I’m baffled by the delay, particularly given the personal intervention of the Prime Minister.”

UK Trade and Industry, the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the Foreign Office and British embassies in Turkey are involved.

Late last year Solar Europa boss David Hawkins said, if successful, the deal would create up to 600 local jobs and keep workers busy for a decade. It is to provide, supply, install and service thousands of panels on a 3-4GW facility in the south of the country.

Earlier this month, Dan Jarvis, Sheffield MP Angela Smith and Wrexham MP Ian Lucas wrote to the PM urging him to intervene.

A Government spokesperson said: “We are determined to generate as many jobs as possible in the UK by winning business abroad.

“The Government is supportive of Solar Europa and is working closely with them on this matter as part of our commitment to help our ambitious manufacturing businesses succeed.

“The awarding of this contract is a matter for the Turkish Government, but in the meantime we continue to work with them to increase collaboration on energy security and renewable energy.”