Solar panels for 500 Cambridgeshire homes despite subsidy cuts

About 500 council homes in Cambridgeshire are to be fitted with solar panels, despite government changes to energy subsidies.

South Cambridgeshire District Council has agreed to fit the panels to the 500 "most viable" homes.

It comes after the authority scrapped plans for panels on 2,300 homes following a 50% reduction in subsidies.

In December, the subsidy-reduction plans were ruled legally flawed but the government intends to appeal.

The government had intended to implement its tariff changes from 1 April.

However, it announced the reduction would come into effect for all solar panels installed after 12 December 2011.

Councillor Mark Howell, cabinet member for housing, said the council had been "deeply disappointed" when the new date was announced.

After the High Court ruled that proposal flawed, and initial appeals to overturn the ruling failed, Mr Howell said the situation regarding solar panel installation was now "in limbo".

Tariff 'unknown'

He said the council's partner, Savills Solar, had "driven down the costs" associated with installation of the photovoltaic panels.

This had made it viable for them to be installed on 500 homes where the roof space would generate the most energy, he explained.

"If we wait for a [court] decision it could go either way and we could end up with a lot fewer houses being able to have the panels," Mr Howell said.

"Whatever happens we don't know what the tariff rate will be, so we're taking the bull by the horns, going for it now and getting these houses ready.

"If we wait we could end up with nothing, and I'm not prepared to take that risk."

The panels are expected to be fitted on all homes by the end of March and the council said people could expect a reduction of about £150 on their annual fuel bill.

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