Colorful London Mayor rounds on UK government's solar cuts


London’s outspoken Mayor Boris Johnson has waded into the debate over the U.K.’s solar future by criticizing the Conservative government’s proposals to further slash solar subsidies in the form of a drastic FIT cut.

Johnson, who has been tipped to replace David Cameron as Conservative leader in the future, said at Mayor’s Question Time this week that he is "very concerned" about the proposals to cut subsidies for the U.K.’s dynamic solar sector, telling ministers that the technology had "many, many attractions".

"I am concerned about the government’s potential cuts to the FIT," the Mayor said. "We are talking to members of all the representative bodies of solar industry in London."

Johnson added that his own team is looking at what it can do to understand the impact that the proposals will have. The Mayor believes that as many as 10,000 jobs could be at risk in London alone should the FIT be cut as per the proposals. "Solar panels have got cheaper, which is the government’s reason, I think, they are cutting the FIT… but I think it would be wrong if the cut actually stops people from investing in solar, because clearly it has many, many attractions."

Yesterday, the Solar Trade Association (STA) and 44 additional stakeholders with an interest in the solar industry of the U.K. – including Panasonic, Greenpeace, Lightsource, Ikea and DuPont – issued a joint statement urging the government to reconsider its decision.

Figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) suggest that as many as 20,000 jobs could be lost if the proposals go ahead, as outlined, on January 1, 2016. A further study by the Renewable Energy Association (REA) pointed out that the cuts may actually prove financially detrimental to the country’s coffers, with lost revenue from corporation tax, income tax, welfare payments and national insurance set to be higher than the savings made on DECC’s budgetary framework.

Hilary Benn, Shadow Foreign Minister, added his voice to the debate, stating: "The very significant cuts being proposed by the current government are likely to cost jobs and investment in the green economy."