Subsidy fear for Long Sutton solar park

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DEVELOPERS of solar parks planned for Long Sutton are keeping their fingers crossed that the projects are safe from the Government axe on tariff subsidies.

Earlier this month energy and climate change secretary Chris Huhne announced an early review of pre-set index-linked tariffs which were introduced last April to encourage the production of green electricity.

The Government intends to redress the balance as commercially-funded community solar park schemes have raced ahead to take advantage of the subsidies while individual householders have been slow to come forward.

It’s looking again urgently at projects that produce more than 50 kilowatts of electricity – effectively anything bigger than an average primary school roof.

And investors in a number of ongoing solar park projects have already announced they are putting plans on hold pending the results of the review.

But Dr Jerry Harrall, the architect behind the recently approved £8million solar farm at Long Sutton Butterfly and Wildlife Park, who also has three other solar parks in the area under discussion with planners, thinks it’s likely that they will go ahead and their funding is secure.

He said: “I can’t be certain, but as the review is unlikely to take effect before July and is not retrospective, I believe the Long Sutton schemes will squeeze in in time to benefit from the feed-in tariffs.

“Also the developers funding the scheme are fairly secure.”

Dr Harrall is meeting a minister in London next week to put his case.

He said: “I think Chris Huhne and Greg Barker mis-judged the market and misunderstood the commercial implications.

“Without the commercial investment that will bring down prices and encourage British manufacture of solar panels, the domestic market won’t be viable.

“Our solar parks at Long Sutton represent a total £22million investment in the solar industry.

“At the moment 75 per cent of our fuel comes from abroad and the proportion is rising. We need to reverse the cycle.”