Feed-in Tariffs Scheme
Business of the House
Luciana Berger (Liverpool, Wavertree, Labour)
I thank the Minister for his statement. Unfortunately his office sent the statement and the 39-page consultation response document just over half an hour ago, so I have not been able to study it in detail. I was, however, able to get details of what was in the statement from someone at Friends at the Earth, who had been briefed by his Department before I received a copy. Perhaps the Minister can share with us why that was possible.
The chaotic manner in which the statement came about tells its own story about the Government’s approach to feed-in tariffs. No one disputes the need to bring down the FIT level in an orderly fashion, but the Government’s chaotic mismanagement of that process threatens a growing industry and undermines investment across the entire low-carbon sector. This debacle, a mess created by this Minister, began more than eight months ago and has so far cost the Department more than £80,000 in legal fees.
Once again, the Government are sneaking out changes to feed-in tariffs on the day before a recess. They did it in February and they have done it again today. The Minister threw a lot of smoke and mirrors about why he is moving the July deadline, but the truth is that he is changing the deadline not because he wants to but because he has to. Will he confirm that the Government have missed the deadline by which they were legally required to provide notice to Parliament for the next round of cuts to have come into force by
On the detail of his statement, will the Minister tell us whether, despite the changes announced today, the number of installations will still drop by a third this year? I welcome the announcement that tariffs will continue to be linked to the retail prices index, but what estimate has he made of the effect on take-up of the reduction from 25 to 20-year payments? If take-up remains low, what measures will he introduce to boost demand to meet his ambition of 22 GW by 2020?
The Minister says he wishes to set up a PV cost reduction taskforce. What mechanisms will he put in place to ensure that a cut in the cost of installation does not lead to an increase in rogue solar installers? If demand does exceed the deployment level set by his Department, what will be the additional cut to the tariff above the 3.5% he has announced today? He says that he listens to the industry, but if he really listened he would not have dragged it through the courts, trying to impose devastating cuts that went too far and too fast. He lost that battle. This entire process has been a long list of blunders by the Minister and his Department. Will he now agree to independent oversight of the feed-in tariff to prevent future mishandling of the scheme?
In February, the Minister said that his cuts would
“deliver for far more people”—[Hansard, 9 February 2012; Vol. 540, c. 473.]—
and more than under Labour, but the number of installations has collapsed since his last cuts came into force in April. He said that his Government would deliver 22 GW of solar power by 2020, but at the current rate of installation that target will be missed by more than 100 years. He also said that he would put the industry on a sustainable footing, but a devastated 6,000 people have lost their job as a direct result of his actions last summer.
The Government’s rushed changes to feed-in tariffs go too far and too fast, hitting squeezed families who are trying to protect themselves from soaring energy bills and paralysing an entire industry. Instead of supporting businesses, he put thousands of jobs at risk and left the sector living on its nerves. Today was a chance to end the uncertainty and lay out a clear path to 2020, but the Minister has failed to set out his plan to deliver his 22 GW by 2020. He said that he wants to deliver TLC—I have noted the phrase transparency, longevity and certainty on a number of occasions—but all we got today was more of the same: more chaos, more confusion and more cuts.