Solar scheme under threat

solarram'Navitas solar employees Jamie Martin, Paul Grayson, Adrian Turner and Mark Bellamy fit solar panles to one of the properties on Sevenairs Road.
solarram'Navitas solar employees Jamie Martin, Paul Grayson, Adrian Turner and Mark Bellamy fit solar panles to one of the properties on Sevenairs Road.
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A PROJECT to install solar panels at hundreds of South Yorkshire homes is at risk - after the cancellation of another major scheme in Doncaster.

South Yorkshire Housing Association, which is halfway through its Live Green scheme to install solar panels at 650 homes around the county, is not releasing any further properties to its contractor for work after the beginning of December.

Installations still to be carried out by contractor Navitas, based in Killamarsh, at more than 300 homes, are now on hold.

SYHA has told the contractor it is reviewing the scheme before deciding whether to complete the remaining homes.

Navitas said it was too early to comment until SYHA has decided if work on the properties should go ahead.

The news follows a decision by housing management company St Leger Homes, in Doncaster, to cancel a scheme to fit solar panels to its houses.

But another housing firm, Berneslai Homes, is pressing ahead with a scheme to fit solar panels to 291 properties in Thurnscoe, Goldthorpe and Bolton-on-Dearne.

The Government plans to reduce by at least half payments to homeowners with solar panels under the Feed In Tariff scheme.

A South Yorkshire Housing Association spokeswoman said solar panels were being fitted in different phases. The first, involving 221 homes, has been completed and 91 of 108 homes in the second phase will be finished before December 12, after which the Feed In Tariff payments are being cut.

The remaining homes from phase two, and more than 300 homes in phase three, due to be be fitted with panels next year, have been put on hold.

Craig Jackson, in charge of the Live Green scheme at SYHA, said: “The installations are helping to reduce the cost of ever increasing fuel bills. We’re helping people, those with lower incomes, to have an opportunity to get out of poverty.

“The changes to the policy mean companies like SYHA will no longer be able to afford to install the panels free on homes.”

Mr Jackson said representatives from the company have met climate change minister Greg Barker to lobby against the tarrif change.

Berneslai Homes has only just started work on its project, which it says will reduce people’s electricity bills by as much as £130 a year. Over 25 years, the scheme could save tenants nearly £1m and save 235 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

Among those benefitting are Keith and Janice Wyer, of Bolton-on-Dearne. They said: “We are delighted we now have solar panels and are looking forward to our future bills being cheaper.”

Wentworth and Dearne Labour MP John Healey called for the Government to rethink its decision.

He said: “Solar panels will become available only to the wealthy few.”