Many of you will be familiar Reinhold Niebuhr’s ‘serenity’ prayer which asks for wisdom to tell the difference between those things that we can change, and those things which we cannot – so while the solutions to the global financial crisis may seem elusive, our government here in the UK can choose to implement policies which encourage investment in the manufacturing sector and stimulate growth.
Investors need certainty and consistency of policy. That is why it is utter madness for the government to rush in 50% cuts to the Solar Panel Feed-in Tariff subsidy, with just six weeks’ notice, which means that any panels that are not installed and up and running by 12th December will only get half the current rate of subsidy, making a mockery of the consultation which closes on 23rd Dec. Everyone accepts that the subsidies would decrease gradually but changes were not expected before April 2012.
Solar Panel factories and installers across Wales, like Filsol in Ponthenri, who have taken on new staff as a result of sales projections based on the original scheme, are now finding their markets collapsing. To make matters worse, firms are already having difficulty obtaining the necessary parts to complete existing jobs, because no manufacturer wants to be left with unsalable stock. Big projects to install solar panels on thousands of housing association homes in Wales are now at risk, threatening jobs and apprenticeships. It is a kick in the teeth for all those families who want to do the right thing by investing in solar.
We need a U-turn before it’s too late, which is why I am seeking an emergency meeting for solar industry representatives with the Secretary of State for Wales Cheryl Gillan.