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Feed-in Tariff Review

Volume 536: debated on Wednesday 23 November 2011

5. When she next expects to meet representatives of the solar industry in Wales to discuss the feed-in tariff consultation. (81784)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is meeting representatives from the Welsh solar industry next week along with the shadow Minister for Wales to discuss concerns that businesses have about the feed-in tariff review.

The Minister will know that confidence in the solar industry has been considerably damaged by the decision on feed-in tariffs. Will he and the Secretary of State now stand up for Wales and ask the Department of Energy and Climate Change to defer the decision date for implementation of 12 December so that the consultation, which finishes on 23 December, can at least have the views of the solar industry he is meeting next week?

I understand the right hon. Gentleman’s constituency interest in this regard. As he rightly says, there is a consultation going on, which ends on 23 December. Although the reference date is indeed 12 December, that is subject to consultation.

Antur Nantlle community business group in my constituency has well developed plans for a hydroelectric scheme that will benefit the environment as well as provide an income stream for the venture, but it is concerned that any future change in the tariff will undermine the financial basis of the scheme. What can the Wales Office do to ensure that this example of the big society in action is not jeopardised by the Government’s actions?

The hon. Gentleman will know that the consultation proceeding at the moment relates only to photovoltaic installations. There will be a further consultation in due course in which he will no doubt participate.

The Government’s feed-in tariff fiasco risks shattering all investor confidence in manufacturing in Wales. What will the Minister do to influence ministerial colleagues to prevent imminent job losses in the Welsh solar industry and ensure that any change to the feed-in tariff is given a long lead-in time and is set at a rate that will encourage investment and not increase unemployment?

We fully understand the difficulties that companies involved in this sector of the economy face as a consequence, but if things had been left as they were, the feed-in tariff budget would have been eaten up. There is a consultation and I have no doubt that the hon. Lady will participate in it.