- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Category: Feature
Joyce Watson AM has accused the UK Government of “pulling the rug from underneath” a solar housing project in north Pembrokeshire.
Local company Western Solar is building six eco-houses on the site of a former garage in the village of Glanrhyd. Once constructed, they will be made available to people on the housing register who have lived in the area for at least five years.
The project’s funding is based on the feed-in tariff, the money paid by energy suppliers for electricity generated from a renewable or low-carbon source. However, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is proposing to cut the feed-in tariff rate for solar PV installations by as much as 87% from 1 January 2016; Mrs Watson has warned this will hamper the Pembrokeshire project and damage the wider solar industry.
Speaking in the Senedd (7 October), Joyce Watson AM said:
“Western Solar has invested greatly in developing hi-tech, low-energy affordable homes, and employing apprentices, skilled carpenters and electricians, not to mention the local supply chain of civil engineers and architects. It is a business model predicated on the existing feed-in tariffs, and reductions in that will be a major risk to future development. Do you agree with me, Minister, that we should be supporting innovation, not pulling the rug from underneath these projects?”
The Minister for Natural Resources, Carl Sargeant AM, replied:
“I absolutely agree. These are the projects that certainly we as Welsh Government would like to support more. Certainly, I know the Minister for housing is very keen to look at alternative methods of construction, and there are some things that we can look at together, but it is an issue around the feed-in tariff and how that has impacted on businesses directly, with no lead-in time or lead-out time. That’s one of the concerns. One of the major factors of concern for the global economy is the environment. We have to start thinking about the way we construct buildings and do things differently. This is one of the good examples that we may be seen to lose because of actions taken by the UK Government at a moment’s touch”
In June, at the invitation of Glen Peter, CEO of Western Solar, Mrs Watson undertook a tour of the construction site. Joyce Watson is a member of the Assembly committees for the environment and business, and is chair of the cross-party group of AMs for the construction industry.