By Marcus Leach

The Government is undermining confidence in energy policy and hurting the UK solar industry by rushing through panicked changes to Feed-in Tariffs (FiTs) without adequate notice to consumers and installers alike, according to a new report by MPs on two influential select committees.

"There is no question that solar subsidies needed to be urgently reduced, but the Government has handled this clumsily," Tim Yeo MP, Chair of the Energy and Climate Change Committee, said.

"Ministers should have spotted the solar gold rush much earlier. That way subsidy levels could have been reduced in a more orderly way without delivering such a shock to the industry."

Plans to require homes to meet a ‘C’ rated energy efficiency standard before they can receive solar FiTs will limit access to wealthier households and could have a ‘fatal impact’ on the industry, the MPs warn.

Eighty six per cent of homes would need to be better insulated before they could qualify for the scheme under the Government’s proposals — increasing up-front costs for homeowners by £5,600 to £14,000, even before the panels are purchased.

"It doesn’t make economic sense to let the sun go down on the solar industry in the UK. As well as helping to cut carbon emissions, every panel that is installed brings in VAT for the Government and every company that benefits from the support is keeping people in work," Joan Walley MP, Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee added.

"The Government is right to encourage people to focus on saving energy before fitting solar panels, but these proposals will require most households to spend thousands of pounds on extra insulation before they even purchase the panels.

"This will stop nine out of ten installations from going ahead, which will have a devastating effect on hundreds of solar companies and small building firms installing these panels across the country."

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