Cuts threaten city solar plans

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Government cuts are threatening a proposal to fit solar panels at Sheffield schools - and endangering hundreds of jobs in the city.

Volunteers from Sheffield Friends of the Earth have spent all year working with parents, schools, councillors and building officers to produce case studies which make it easier for schools to fit solar panels.

As the local environmental group started to approach schools with this information, the Department of Energy and Climate Change proposed cutting the feed-in-tariff paid for electricity generated by solar panels by 87 per cent from January 2016. This represents a cut from 12.4p to 1.6p per unit of electricity generated.

The proposed cut would make it financially unviable for city schools to fit solar panels, and would also put hundreds of solar jobs in the city at risk.

This week, representative FOE, along with the sales director of Sheffield solar company AW Solar, met with Louise Haigh MP to hand over hundreds of postcards from angry constituents.

Ms Haigh said: “I share the concerns about this Government’s attack on the solar industry, and will continue to raise the issue in Parliament. My postbag is full of constituents who are rightly angry over the cut in the feed-in-tariff. This cut makes solar unattainable for many schools and individuals who are keen to play a key part in moving to low carbon energy, but also hits hundreds of local companies and workers who are now uncertain for the industry’s future. This simply is unacceptable and I will continue to support Friends of the Earth in this campaign.”

Sheffield Friends of the Earth campaigner, Shaun Rumbelow, said “If the cuts go ahead as planned, many hard working local people risk losing their jobs after Christmas.”