Red tape delays multi-billion Barnsley solar panel deal

David Hawkins with Prime Minister David Cameron
David Hawkins with Prime Minister David Cameron
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Hundreds of skilled jobs are under threat as a result of hold ups in a multi-billion pound deal between a Barnsley business and the Turkish government.

Solar Europa, which specialises in photovoltaic systems, is currently negotiating a contract with the Turkish government for the world’s biggest solar farm. It is believed to be worth around £2bn.

However, the deal has been left in limbo due to Whitehall “red tape”, Dan Jarvis MP warned.

The Barnsley Central MP said a stall in the signing of an agreement between the UK and Turkish governments means the contract cannot be finalised.

Mr Jarvis raised the issue at Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday, asking Prime Minister David Cameron to intervene.

Mr Jarvis said the deal would be a huge boost to the economy.

“Solar Europa have been working for years to secure an international contract to manufacture millions of solar panels in Barnsley,” he said.

“This contract would deliver billions of pounds of investment and hundreds of good, skilled jobs.

“Negotiations with the Turkish government have been progressing well, but now the deal is at risk of collapsing because of problems in Whitehall.

“David Cameron promised to give every support when the company met with him two years ago, now he needs to keep his word.”

The situation is putting 300 “skilled, well-paying jobs” on the line, Mr Jarvis added.

Following Mr Jarvis’ appeal, Mr Cameron said UK Trade and Industry, the Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Foreign Office had so far provided assistance.

He said: “We want to promote all projects that can create jobs in the UK and benefit relations with international partners.”

The Prime Minister committed to look into the matter.

David Hawkins, chief executive of Solar Europa, said the firm is “very grateful” for the support it has been given.

“Negotiations are still ongoing, but if they are successful the contract will bring hundreds of jobs to the UK,” he added.

Solar Europa was founded in 2008. Its International business has offices in the UK, Europe, Asia, Australia and the Middle East.

It hopes to supply, install and service thousands of panels on a 3-4GW facility in the south of the country.

David Hawkins said in November: “It’s been three-and-a-half-years of hard work and team effort.

“We’ve worked closely with our delivery partners; UKTI, British Chambers of Commerce, Barnsley and Rotherham Chamber and our partners in Turkey and have been fortunate enough to get to this stage.

“2015 looks promising.”

The firm, on Capitol Park near Junction 37 of the M1, was only set up in 2008. Mr Hawkins met Prime Minister David Cameron in 2013 to discuss the contract.