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Feed-in Tariffs (Stoke-on-Trent)

Volume 536: debated on Thursday 1 December 2011

The Department has received a significant number of telephone inquiries, responses to consultation exercises and other pieces of correspondence relating to the consultation on feed-in tariffs. These are very likely to have included representations from the people of Stoke-on-Trent. However, at this early stage I am afraid that I cannot give the hon. Lady a detailed breakdown.

The Minister did in fact receive a letter from the chief executive and leader of Stoke-on-Trent council telling him that what is at stake with the Government’s review of the feed-in tariff is 100 jobs and 4,000 council homes that will lose their opportunity to reduce heating bills. What is going on in Stoke-on-Trent is echoed all around the country. Given that everybody agrees that the feed-in tariff needs to be reviewed, but in a phased way, does the Minister agree that, at the very least, the existing tariff levels should be honoured for aggregated solar photovoltaic schemes where there are existing contracts?

There is nothing retrospective about the proposals that we are consulting on. The hon. Lady must accept that demand for the scheme is overwhelming compared with the budget that is available, and way beyond that which was anticipated by her own Government. We have to make very difficult decisions in balancing one factor against the other, but at the centre of our decision-making process will be a concern to ensure that this is a viable scheme that keeps the industry alive for the long term and does not support a short-term bubble.

Order. Although I accept that the same sun shines on all three places, Huddersfield and Lewisham, Deptford are rather a long way away from Stoke-on-Trent, to which this question is confined.