Please be assured that I am fully aware of your concerns regarding solar and the proposed changes to the Feed-In-Tariffs (FITs). You may be interested to know that I have recently been elected Vice-Chairman of the Climate Change APPG as well to the Environment Audit Committee. I am passionate about ensuring that our planet is cared for and I will continue to input both locally and nationally to see this happens.
I have been assured that the Government is committed to meeting 15 per cent of the UK's energy demands from renewable resources by 2020, and FITs have led to levels of renewable energy deployment that have surpassed all expectations. By the end of the year deployment under the FIT scheme will have already exceeded the Government's 2012 projections for wind, hydro and anaerobic digestion in 2020-21, and is expected to be within the predicted range for solar before then too.
It is of course good news for the environment that renewable energy has been rolled out sooner than anticipated, but the extra costs associated with providing FITs are ultimately paid by customers through their energy bills. I would expect the Government to ensure that these costs are kept affordable.
That is why the Government is now consulting on proposals designed to relieve the pressure on energy customers from rising costs, improve value for their money and keep the costs of renewable energy policies sustainable.
The consultation raises questions about a set of proposed new tariff rates, based on the latest information about how much these schemes really cost. It also suggests capping spending on new FITs at £75-100 million by 2018-19, so as to avoid the need to stop providing tariffs for new generation projects entirely. Existing facilities would not be affected by these changes.
The consultation will close on 23 October and you can find more information on the UK Government website, www.gov.uk, by searching on the term 'Feed-in Tariffs consultation'. More locally, I am planning on setting up a Taunton Environment Forum, where we can discuss ideas and local strategy. I am hopeful that the first meeting will take place in either September or October and I will be in touch as soon as I have more details of this.