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It was my hon. Friend Ian Blackford. If I had been able to do so, I would have said that the actions and policies of the UK Government are pushing more and more people into fuel poverty. Furthermore, by slashing investment in clean energy initiatives, the Government will not only hurt the renewable sector but make it harder for households to access clean energy.
Clean energy is a massive area, and we in the SNP have made our views on the shameful cuts to onshore wind well known, so, given the time constraints this morning, I will focus my remarks on solar energy. Before I do so, however, it is worth reflecting on the Government’s green credentials. In a few short months, we have seen the early closing of the renewables obligation for onshore wind, the removal of the climate change levy exemption, the scrapping of the proposed introduction in 2016 of the zero-carbon homes standard, the cutting of subsidies for biomass and solar under the renewables obligation, the changing of the accreditation rules for the feed-in tariff and the announcement of the ending of finance for the Green Deal Finance Company. So much for the Prime Minister’s pledge to lead the greenest Government ever.
During the election campaign, I spent a considerable amount of time campaigning in the town of Linwood in my constituency. It was noticeable that a large number of households in the town had installed solar panels on the roofs of their homes. I appreciate that that is a relatively common sight these days, but not usually on the scale that I saw in Linwood, where every second house seemed to have a solar panel installed. I raised the matter with one of my constituents and asked why the town had taken to solar panels as much as it had. He explained that when he and his neighbours considered the cost of installing them and the subsequent savings on their energy bills, they realised that solar electricity was the most cost-effective way to provide their energy at home. It disappoints me to learn of the Government’s plans to make severe cuts to schemes that support solar power, because they will prevent tens of thousands of people from accessing clean energy.