Dorset’s green industry facing collapse

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Solar panels above a shop on Portland Bill Photo: Elliott Brown

The announcement of cuts to government subsidies for green energy projects has triggered fears of job losses.

The Government’s plan to defund the subsidy scheme that supported green energy firms in Dorset was announced in August and will take effect in January 2016. Financial support to both homeowners and businesses wishing to install renewable technology will be reduced by 87%.

‘I feel betrayed by this Government,’ says Mark Stephenson, director of Poole-based renewables firm H2Eco, ‘we were promised a ‘solar revolution’ by the Conservatives but because of their cuts, I’ve had to lay off five workers already.’

The number of jobs supported by the green industry in the UK is around 18,000, with hundreds of these jobs being based in Dorset.

‘There will be job losses across the county,’ says Green councillor Simon Bull, ‘this is simply just short-termism on the Government’s part. The renewables industry is about safeguarding jobs and protecting the planet but the Conservatives don’t seem to care.’

Philip Broadhead (Conservative Party) a member of Bournemouth Council’s Environment Panel, is more optimistic, ‘I believe that the green industry in Dorset is now strong enough to stand on its own two feet. Green energy is very much the future of the energy industry but government subsidies can’t last forever.’

Mr Stephenson disagrees,

“At the same time as these cuts we’ve got the EU saying that VAT on green technology has to go back up to 20% and the Chinese are dumping cheap solar panels onto the market. The industry in Dorset will be lucky to survive.”

New EU regulations now mean that the previous 5% rate of VAT set by the government for solar panels and other green technologies is illegal and must be raised to 20%.

When questioned about the cuts, Councillor Mark Anderson (Conservative), chairman of Bournemouth Council’s Environment Overview Panel said he was “not aware of any planned cuts” and declined to give further comment.

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