Some have halted projects, but others hope to rush them through

Two more local authorities have been forced to scrap their plans for solar panel projects following the Government’s announcement that Feed-in Tariff subsidies will be cut by almost half on 12 December.  

A third, Cambridge City Council, has warned that plans for major solar panel installations may no longer be financially viable, while Wrexham County Borough Council is hoping to rush its projects through within the next five weeks.

The news follows reports earlier this week that Leeds City Council has halted plans to install at least 1,000 solar panels on council-owned homes, while Reading Council described its £5m solar power projects as “effectively scuppered”.

Waltham Forest and Torbay Councils have both put their projects on hold altogether. Waltham Forest had intended to install solar panels on 1,090 homes in the borough, while Torbay was set to fit solar panels on 45 public buildings including schools and council offices next year.

Torbay’s deputy mayor David Thomas said: “Torbay Council has been going through a procurement process in preparation for our solar panels scheme next year, but regrettably we feel we have no option but to put the project on hold, at least for the time being.

“It is disappointing, but we cannot commit ourselves to a project unless we know that it is viable, not only environmentally but also financially.

“Despite this temporary setback, we are actively investigating other possible funding sources we could tap into so we can revive the project, either in part or in its entirety.”

Wrexham County Borough Council recently started work on a scheme to install 3,000 solar panels on council housing, which was scheduled for completion by the end of March 2012.

The council had raised concerns that the subsidy cut could derail the project and leave it in an awkward financial position, but confirmed today that it will try to rush the work through.

Wrexham’s strategic director Philip Walton said: “Wrexham Council’s Executive Board yesterday approved the continuation of its Solar PV installation project, despite Government proposals to cut FIT payments by 50%. The council will work closely with its contractor over the next 5 weeks to maximise the number of installations that can be completed before the proposed FIT changes are introduced on December 12th. The Council also remains committed to completing all 3000 installations by 31st March 2012.”