I want to give the hon. Gentleman the good news that I will be publishing today the next stages of our proposals for a smart export guarantee to reflect two principles: that nobody should be providing energy to the grid for free, or indeed at negative pricing, as has happened in some countries; and that the value of community energy projects, which is real and significant, can be recognised. That consultation will be published later today and I look forward to his response, because I know he is a long-standing campaigner in this area.
It would have been useful to have had that publication before Question Time to enable informed questions to be asked. I put it to the Minister that some 60 MW of solar energy in Wales alone rely on the export tariffs. Will she be looking at differential tariffs for existing versus new providers, so that there is no breach of contract with existing providers, and ensure that tariffs are set so as to encourage solar rather than fracking and so that we are in accordance with our Paris commitments, which have just been referred to?
The hon. Gentleman should know that we have signalled for many years how the closure of the feed-in tariff will work. We have spent almost £6 billion on existing contracts, and those contracts will of course be honoured. We have also announced with the closure of the scheme that there is a limited application period for projects for the next couple of months. There will be some that are brought forward, but it is only right that, as the price of this power provision has tumbled, we stop using other people’s money to subsidise something that we do not need to do in order to bring forward solar.
While we have been in the Chamber, the Minister’s consultation has gone online, and Members and the public have until 5 March to respond to it. What reassurance can she give that those responses will be listened to? There is concern in the solar industry and among others that 91% of responses to a previous consultation by her Department were against the end of export tariffs, yet that went ahead. Will she meet me and an excellent local business, AES Solar, which has concerns but would like to discuss them with her and community representatives?
I would be delighted to meet my hon. Friend and I am also very interested in the consultation results. I want to make the point quickly that the era of crude subsidy is over, partly because the price of renewables has dropped so significantly. We are trying to ensure that bringing forward the decentralised energy that we believe is so important to our system is also the objective of this tariff, and I would be interested to hear his views as well as those of his constituents.