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Liberal Democrats fail in bid to get FiT cuts annulled

A Liberal Democrat peer has failed in a last-ditch bid to overturn the government’s solar subsidy cuts after Labour members of the House of Lords stopped short of backing the motion.

Baroness Featherstone’s motion to annul the government’s decision to reduce solar subsidies by nearly-two thirds was defeated by 129 votes in the Lords last night.

The 65 per cent cut to feed-in tariffs could result in more than 18,000 job losses over the next three years. From next week, the government will give financial aid of 4.39p KWh instead of the existing 12.47p.

Baroness Featherstone, who is the Lib Dem’s energy spokeswoman, tabled the motion after the cuts were passed as secondary legislation in December 2015, meaning the decision was not subject to a Commons vote.

It was hoped that support from Labour’s 213 peers could have been enough to secure victory. However, the failure to secure the backing of enough Labour peers means the cuts will be implemented next week as planned.

Labour’s decision to abstain came despite party leader Jeremy Corbyn having previously spoken out against the cuts.

Speaking to Construction News, Baroness Featherstone said: “You would have thought Labour would have backed us given the fact that they are against the cuts and Jeremy Corbyn made a regret motion through the House of Commons earlier this year.

“At the moment I think the the Labour Party is looking inwards and it is not doing its job.”

She added: “I will go back to the government to see if we can push things a bit further with this, but statutorily it’s over and the cuts will now come into being.”

Ahead of the subsidy reduction, the Solar Trade Association told Construction News it feared job losses and insolvencies could start to be seen before the year’s halfway point.

A spokeswoman said: “Regarding the impact of the reductions in the feed-in tariff on the solar PV market, it is still too early to tell.

“The market is currently in a state of flux and it is likely to be several months before it recalibrates to the new policy environment.

“The new tariff levels are challenging and we are likely to see some industry consolidation, but solar power remains a great investment and a cheap way to reduce the carbon footprint of new homes and commercial buildings.”

According to the government’s own impact assessment, between 9,700 and 18,700 jobs in the industry could be lost by 2018/19 as a result of the change.

The Labour Party has been contacted for comment.

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