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Clear Skies’ successor charges massive registration fee

The Government is planning to charge installers £1,800 and renewable product manufacturers £3,600 just to register with the UK Microgeneration Certification scheme (UKMCs). This is before they have passed the assessment to the new requirement, allowing them to install or offer renewable technologies to their customers. The UKMCs is the third-party certification scheme for microgeneration products and installers, developed and operated by BRE Certification Ltd (BREC). From April 30 2007, the UKMCs is set to replace the existing Clear Skies and Photovoltaic (PV) programmes, under which installers and manufacturers could register for free. Earlier last month, Paul Rochester, building and community renewables head at the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), wrote to existing Clear Skies and PV members informing them of the changes. “It is intended that the new scheme will become self-financing such that it will grow and develop to provide consumer protection into the longer term. In order to achieve this, the scheme will no longer be free to product manufactures and installation companies wishing to participate,” Mr Rochester wrote. Peter Thom, Green Heat managing director, was disgusted with the new charges. “This is an outrageous amount of money,” he said. “The Government should not be charging installers to register to participate in the scheme. It should be encouraging them to become fully qualified and trained in the technology. “If installers are going to be charged they will not engage with the scheme. I strongly believe that installers should have the right qualifications and training to participate, but they should not be charged. He added: “As far as I’m concerned, it would appear that the Government is doing everything it can to slow the UK renewable industry down. This is not going to help the market develop. Neil Schofield, Worcester, Bosch sustainable development head, concurred. He said: “For installers who want to enrol, train and promote renewables, the cost of registering is going to be a massive barrier to trading. “And for homeowners who want to use ‘greener’ alternatives and reduce their running costs, the availability of fewer accredited installers could seriously hinder the take-up of microtechnologies in Britain,” he claimed. Mr Schofield said the registration fee risked undermining the Government’s existing objective of tackling climate change by making “microgeneration a realistic, alternative or supplementary energy generation source for the householder, communities and small businesses”. “Let’s be blunt here, installers don’t have to offer renewable technologies and with the cost of the registration fee they simply won’t. The biggest loser of all could be the Government, in view of its massive carbon reduction targets and its aim to hit the first of these by 2010. ” A DTI spokesperson: “The new accreditation scheme will evaluate products and installers against robust criteria so that consumers are reassured over their performance, quality and reliability. There are costs involved in this process and they have to be met by companies that wish to be included. There are benefits in being a part of the UK Microgeneration Certification Scheme and we encourage installers to do so, but it is voluntary.” The industry is also concerned that it may soon be saddled with two separate sets of registration fees. Microgeneration-accredited installers wishing to self-certify their work will have to pay a further fee of around £400 to participate in the Competent Persons Scheme. The industry claims this is evidence of a lack of joining up of the different regulatory regimes. A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesperson confirmed that two separate registration fees would be required since each scheme targets a particular set of competencies.