New solar plan is victim of cut

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TENS of thousands of tenants in Sheffield will miss out on lower energy bills after plans to fit solar panels to council houses were scrapped.

Sheffield Council said it is axing its ambitious Solar City scheme because the Government is cutting subsidies.

Some 1,200 council houses, 135 schools and 10 council buildings had been earmarked for panels initially – but the scheme could have been extended to all 42,000 Sheffield council homes.

The project would have seen tenants receive free electricity during daylight hours, saving households £140-a-year on average.

Coun Leigh Bramall, Labour cabinet member for the environment, said the reduction in the Feed in Tariff had made the scheme “unviable”.

He added: “This affair makes this Government’s claim to be the greenest ever an absolute joke.”

But Coun Shaffaq Mohammed, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Sheffield City Council, said the Labour council was playing politics and that the solar panels would still make money – just over a longer period.

He said: “Whilst the payback might be over a longer period, the project could still be viable. Labour councillors are just using this as an excuse to blame the Government and do nothing. Once again Sheffield loses out because we have a Labour council who are more interested in playing politics than coming up with solutions to improve local people’s lives.”

Across the county, plans to fit panels on social housing are being scrapped or are under review. Yorkshire Housing and St Leger Homes in Doncaster have pulled the plug, while South Yorkshire Housing Association is reviewing its partially-completed scheme to install panels at its properties.

Rotherham Labour MP John Healey is calling for the higher subsidy to be protected for social housing projects.