Council house solar panel scheme shut and plans for Ipswich homes abandoned

solar panels

solar panels - Credit: Archant

Proposals to install solar panels on 2,000 council homes across Ipswich have been abandoned after the Government announced it was changing the tariffs paid for renewable energy.

The Government is due to end the subsidy for the installation of solar panels from January 1 next year – and this week’s meeting of the borough’s executive decided that meant the programme was not viable.

In June the council had agreed to go out to tender on the scheme which would have brought an income to the council and cut tenants’ energy bills while benefitting the environment.

The benefits were to derive from feed-in tariffs (FITs) under a Government scheme.

However, portfolio holder for housing John Mowles said the Government had turned away from the “green agenda” and was now planning to cut the tariff significantly from the start of next year.

He said: “In the circumstances, our proposals are no longer viable and the council’s executive had no realistic option other than to pause the tender process which was agreed yesterday. And it’s the second time that the Government has changed the rules in this way.

“It’s bad news for the council tax payers and for 2,000 tenants. It’s a blow, too, to jobs in the solar energy industry where something like 1,900 jobs are likely to be lost across the country – some 300 of them in Suffolk and 140 in Ipswich itself.”

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Conservative opposition leader Nadia Cenci sits on the executive and agreed with the decision to end the scheme – although she felt the Government was doing the right thing in reducing solar panel subsidies.

She said: “I do not think it is right that taxpayers should be paying more to subsidise some council tenants and the council itself so I feel it is right for the Government to make this change and it is right for the council to stop the current plans to extend the number of solar panels in the town.”