Shadow minister criticises management of FIT changes and failure to set up advisory board

The government’s handling of the budget for the solar feed-in tariff (FIT), which is £31m in the red, has been “irresponsible”, shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint told Building this week.

The latest figures show the £94m budget for 2011-12 for the solar subsidy is already overspent by 30%.

This follows the government’s highly controversial decision to halve the FIT, which is currently being challenged in the courts.

“Last year, even before their most recent decision there had already been a few changes to the process,” said Flint referring to the government emergency review of large solar installations that took place last summer. “What I think is irresponsible is the fact that they have had an opportunity in the last year to manage this process.

“I really don’t understand why, in the last 12 months in particular, some of the problems they have identified could not have been handled in a different way,” she added.

Flint said the government should have set up a board of industry leaders to help it make policy decisions on the FIT but one is still not in place.

“During my time as a minister I did always find it helpful to have a sounding board for changing policies. The fact that such a board was never set up has been the reason scaling down the tariff has failed and caused such anger and frustration,” she said.

In December, a judge ruled the government’s plans to slash FIT were illegal because eligibility for the higher rate ended on 12 December before the consultation on the plans closed on 23 December.

A government appeal of that decision is set to be heard on Friday 13 January.

  • Ecobuild’s future energy seminar on 20-22 March will contain expert advice on making the most of the fit and how to specify solar electricity in projects. to register visit