PLANS to build solar panels on around 4,000 homes in the city have been scrapped by Liverpool Council in the face of Government cutbacks.
More than £1.5m investment will be scrapped because of the decision, while thousands of Liverpool families will face higher fuel bills than expected, with many pushed into “fuel poverty".
And thousands more who work in the growing green sector in the region could also see their jobs at risk.
The decision of the government to slash the subsidy – called the “feed-in tariff” – will not only impact on the major housing association in Liverpool, but will also prove a setback to smaller housing co-operatives who want to renovate houses earmarked for demolition.
Housing association LMH, which is involved in the Project Viridis fitting programme with the council, will see the rate of subsidy go down from 43.3p per panel to just 16.8p.
Liverpool Council environment cabinet member Cllr Tim Moore said the government’s cut was a major blow for the city and greatly increased costs.
He added: “Cutting the tariff is a double whammy for Liverpool. Together with our partners, we had put together an exciting and pioneering scheme to fit solar panels in social housing, which had the potential to remove hundreds of families from fuel poverty by slashing heating bills.
“It will also have a devastating impact on the firms that are part of Liverpool’s green revolution.
“The sector employs almost 1,400 people in Merseyside and was gearing up for a major expansion which would have created training and employment opportunities for many people.”
LMH chief executive Steve Coffey said he remained positive despite the setback: “The changes to the feed-in tariff rate will make it more difficult for Project Viridis to deliver the returns on the investment planned but there is still a demand and opportunities are available.
“Installing photovoltaic panels is the first phase of our project but the bigger and more long-term work comes in the second stage.
“This will see us expand the programme to take into account the wider retro-fit agenda with biomass boilers and external wall insulation fitted to homes, while power generation and energy supply options will also be identified, all of which will have a significant impact reducing tenants’ fuel bills and carbon emissions.
“We are awaiting the outcome of the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s consultation and will meet with Project Viridis members to discuss the implications so we can assess our options moving forward but remain positive even in these difficult circumstances.”
The government’s decision to cut the subsidy paid to firms installing panels will be the subject of a High Court challenge.
Friends of The Earth won the right to attempt to have the decision ruled unlawful.