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Cuts could leave renewables firms bankrupt

Hundreds of green energy companies could be forced out of business in months, leading to the loss of tens of thousands of jobs, as the government appears determined to pull the plug on renewable energy, The Independent has reported.

Senior figures representing wind, solar and tidal power say “dramatic” subsidy cuts for renewables are scaring away foreign investors and could leave scores of British firms on the brink of bankruptcy.

The warning comes as the UN’s chief environmental scientist Professor Jacqueline McGlade also said that the cuts, coupled with tax breaks for oil and gas, are sending a “perverse signal” to the rest of the world ahead of December’s crucial climate change summit in Paris.

The Renewable Energy Association (REA), a trade association representing renewable energy producers, said it has tracked 11 major policy changes by the Conservatives since the general election that are having or will have a “negative impact” on the renewable energy industry.

REA head of policy James Court said: “This represents the UK turning away from renewables, which is surprising given the extraordinary decline in costs and increases in technological efficiency that have been achieved over the past five years… The government, frustratingly, seems intent on tripping up the industry within sight of the finishing line.”

The government is pushing ahead with plans to cut subsidies for renewables such as solar and wind. Whitehall has ended support for new large-scale solar farms and is consulting on plans to slash subsidies for smaller installations put up by households, schools and communities by 87%.

The Solar Trade Association (STA) says 27,000 jobs could be at risk as the solar industry’s 3,000 firms face a the cuts. Two solar panel companies, including one of the UK’s biggest installers, blamed the cuts when they went into administration last week and saw the loss of 1,200 jobs. Two smaller firms have also hit the wall.

STA chief executive Paul Barwell said: “It’s very alarming. There is such a lack in confidence in what the government is doing that some companies are shutting up shop already and there is a real risk of foreign investment withdrawing.”

The industry also claims the government is making it impossible to build new onshore wind farms – Britain’s best hope of meeting environmental targets at the lowest possible cost – by ending future subsidies for new projects and introducing draconian changes to planning laws.

Friends of the Earth renewable energy campaigner Alasdair Cameron said: “We are probably going to see hundreds of companies going bankrupt and tens of thousands of jobs lost. We are struggling to understand the government’s approach to renewables when it is also seeking Chinese investment in nuclear power. It’s the equivalent of throwing money at analogue instead of digital television.”

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