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William Powell AM acts to support Welsh solar industry jobs

December 14, 2011 4:36 PM
Originally published by William Powell

William Powell, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development, has shown his support for the Welsh solar industry by throwing his weight behind a 17,000 name strong petition against the UK Government's ill-judged Feed-in-Tariff (FITs) scheme review.

The review was triggered by Treasury concerns over financing and has seen rates cut by over 50% on certain solar tariff rates while the UK Government's consultation period is still on going.  In response, the Renewable Energy Association and the Solar Trade Association presented their 17,000 name (including over 200 organisations) petition to Downing Street on 13th December.

The petition outlined the potential damage and job losses which are likely to result from this change and urged the UK Government to work towards a more effective solution.

William Powell, Assembly Member for Mid and West Wales, said:

"The mid consultation change, which took effect this week, has the very real potential to undermine the UK Government's commitment to reducing our carbon footprint and the promotion of renewable energy. By acting in such a drastic way the UK Government is risking our long term renewable energy requirements for short term savings.


By adding my signature to this important petition I am calling on the UK Government to work with all involved, and amend their plans so a more effective solution can be found. A solution which does not irrevocably damage the UK industry and cost jobs across Wales. I and my colleagues in the Welsh Liberal Democrats will continue to work with the UK Government in order to achieve this goal.

No one is claiming that the tariff rates should remain unchanged, but I am calling for a reasonable and honest consultation. We need to follow the lead of nations like Germany and only step down tariff payments once the industry is strong enough to survive without such measures in place. Slashing the rates to reflect those in Germany in a single step simply will not achieve this, and stands in contradiction to stated UK Government justifications."

Petition wording


Dear Prime Minister & Deputy Prime Minister,

Please Act Immediately to Secure our Solar Industry

Yesterday the Tariff levels for solar power were cut 50% at six weeks' notice and before the close of any consultation. Your ministers have signed off proposals which they anticipate could see the sector reduced to a tenth of its current size, at the cost of tens of thousands of jobs.

Failure to secure a sensible solution to the unfolding crisis in the solar power industry makes no sense for tax-payers, consumers or voters;

We urge you to intervene and secure sufficient budget (or budget flexibility) to sustain the companies and jobs you have created in the solar power sector until the end of this Parliament.

Solar power is the UK's second largest renewable energy resource and the industry has delivered exceptional cost reductions of 30-40% since the start of the FIT scheme. Yet crucial decisions are being taken now without DECC reappraising solar's potential in the light of this striking industry development. If the UK is to prosper, decision-making must be based on current data and a clear understanding of benefits - we urge you to ensure this happens.

It is clear to us the UK cannot afford to go backwards on solar power.