Friends of the Earth is urging the Government to re-think its plans to slash payments for solar electricity schemes today (Monday 12 December 2011), as the rush to install solar payments ahead of a crucial payment deadline comes to an end.

The Government has halved the payments for any solar electricity scheme completed from today, which will almost double the payback period for homes, businesses and communities.

Later this week (Thursday 15 December 2011) Friends of the Earth and two solar companies – Solarcentury and HomeSun – will ask the High Court for permission to challenge Government plans to cut the payments.

The premature cuts could cost up to 29,000 jobs and lose the Treasury up to £230 million a year in tax income, a report commissioned by Friends of the Earth and Cut Don’t Kill – an alliance of solar firms and consumer and environmental organisations – revealed last month. Earlier this month construction firm Carillion warned 4,500 workers their jobs are at risk because of the Government’s proposals.

Countless schemes have already been abandoned, denying cash-strapped homes and businesses the chance to free themselves from soaring fossil fuel prices.

Friends of the Earth’s Executive Director Andy Atkins said:

“These Government cuts will cast a huge shadow over our thriving solar industry and pull the plug on thousands of jobs.

“We don’t oppose modest payment cuts in line with falling installation costs – but the size and speed of these proposals will decimate an industry that could play a key role in weaning the nation off of expensive fossil fuels.

“Ministers must think again and give their support to an industry that could and should be at the cutting edge of a clean energy revolution.”

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