As indicated to my hon. Friend the Member for Dover (Charlie Elphicke) earlier, I confirmed in last month’s spending review that the coalition is fully committed to feed-in tariffs for small-scale renewables.
I thank the Minister for that answer. Local councils have a crucial role to play, so what will the Government do to encourage them to take advantage of feed-in tariffs—especially small-scale feed-in tariffs—so that they can make money for local services as well as cut carbon emissions?
The hon. Gentleman makes an excellent point. One of the first things that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State did was to abolish the previous ban on local authorities selling electricity to the grid. That will now help to create a new, exciting market. We are also making more information available to advise local authorities and communities on how they can access financial incentives.
I listened carefully to my hon. Friend’s earlier answer, and I was pleased to hear his remarks about solar power. I met a manufacturer of solar power technology on Monday, and he was concerned not about the finance opportunities but about the lack of educational opportunities, in that some people do not seem to appreciate the benefits of feed-in tariffs. What are the Government doing to increase education?
It is about dissemination of information, for which our new web-based initiative will be an important tool. Obviously, unlike the previous Government, we will not be spending lots of money on pamphlets and advertising. We have to be cautious about that, but we are doing our best to get the message out there, and ensure that communities and local councils have the information they need.
Does the Minister agree that the third sector plays an important part in small-scale renewables and much else that we have been discussing in Question Time today? On this, the six-month anniversary of this Government, does he realise that the third sector is being destroyed because of the uncertainty of funding, and that it will not last much longer in the environmental area?
I have to say that I simply do not share the hon. Gentleman’s gloomy outlook for the third sector. We are engaging with some excellent social enterprises, and we certainly intend to ensure that the third sector is able to play as big a part as possible in both the green deal and the roll-out of renewable technologies at a micro level, in what is a very exciting agenda.