Yesterday Mr Corbyn brought the day-to-day reality of the FIT cuts directly to the Prime Minister’s attention during PMQs. He spoke of the thousands of jobs that have been lost in Britain’s solar industry as a consequence of reducing the subsidy too harshly and too fast. He also posed questions from Ziggy, Israel and Jay, young people from the Banister House Estate who took part in the Repowering paid internship programme. (Watch the video below)
He said, “I’ve got a question from some apprentice solar fitters at Banister House, a large community energy project. Ziggy, Israel and Jay say that cutting solar tariffs will stop solar projects that they need to protect their environment and give us jobs. They ask the prime minster this: Why do you want to throw all this away?
Mr Cameron Responded saying that “We are doubling investment into renewable energy in this parliament and as for solar panels I think I’m right in saying in the last parliament over a million homes were fitted with solar panels. It’s right that we should go on supporting that industry but we should do it recognising that the cost of manufacturing solar panels has plummeted. Therefore the subsidy should be necessary to deliver solar power, not what’s necessary to pump up the bills of hard-working families”
Voices like Ziggy’s, Israel’s and Jay’s are essential in exhibiting how little Mr Cameron understands the impact of the removal of the Feed-in-Tariff, particularly for community energy projects. Repowering’s projects are not just about renewable energy. We create social energy building valuable skills and expertise within communities whilst also addressing fuel poverty.
Mr Cameron claims to be removing these subsidies to help “hard-working families”. The Banister Interns who benefitted from the Repowering paid internship programme are the children of hard-working families. Community energy programmes like this are providing young people with invaluable technical experience, an income and self-confidence. It is incredible then that Mr Cameron is defending the decision to pull the rug out from beneath the feet of community energy as helping “hard-working families”.
Community energy schemes not only provide social, environmental and financial benefits for local communities but also deliver great value for money as demonstrated in Community Energy England’s impact report. Community Energy schemes such as Repowering’s need the continued support of the FIT in the short-term so we can develop alternate business models without the FIT. It is vital that the FIT and pre-accreditation remains for community energy.
Below is the video of yesterday’s debate. If you wish to add your voice to the argument you can tweet your thoughts here
And here is the interns’ original message to the Prime Minister