green Party members in Sheffield have hit out at a delay to an £865 million national scheme to reward households that generate hot water or heat from renewable sources.
The second phase of the renewable heat incentive, seen as the equivalent of the solar feed-in tariff for generating electricity, was announced last year and due to be launched next week.
However, the Department of Energy and Climate Change now wants further consultations on controlling costs, ‘learning lessons’ from the solar energy scheme, where more households signed up than expected and ministers had to scale back reward payments to stay within budget.
The new scheme, which aims to make it financially attractive for consumers to install low-carbon heating systems like solar water heaters and ground-source heat pumps, is unlikely now to be in operation until mid-2013.
Bernard Little, standing in Broomhill for the Green Party at next month’s Sheffield Council elections, said: “This decision shows real incompetence in dealing with a burgeoning industry.
“Jobs have been lost in Sheffield after the chaos caused by the government last year over the solar feed-in tariffs.
“Now the industry is being held back again.
“This government promised more green investment and jobs in the private sector to make up for public sector cuts. This decision means yet more broken promises.”
Greg Barker, climate minister, said: “Putting in place cost-control measures for the renewable heating scheme is the prudent thing to do, given this is millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money at stake and taking on board the lessons learned from the feed-in tariff scheme.”