Growers rethink solar panel plans after subsidies pulled

Horticulture businesses are rethinking plans to install solar panels after a reduction in Government subsidies.

A review of the feed-in tariff scheme has resulted in a cut in the level of support for solar projects larger than 50kW from 1 August. The new tariff will only affect new entrants to the scheme.

Stewart Gardenlands in Dorset has shelved a planned scheme as a result of the changes. Owner Martin Stewart said: "We are now going ahead with a smaller scheme on the garden centre roof, which is more cost-effective."

He added that the change to the tariff was definitely discouraging people. "The Government has taken the ground from beneath our feet. I know a lot of people who have lost hundreds and thousands of pounds on schemes they cannot go ahead with, which is annoying to say the least."

Dove Associates managing director John Adlam said: "I know of at least one grower who was going to do it but is now considering whether it's the right thing to do. It has put a question mark over the financial viability of the whole thing. It won't affect those that have already installed solar panels but people considering it now may well be affected."

Chichester nursery Blue Ribbon Plants has decided to press ahead with plans to install 800 solar panels on a 1.2ha field. Sales manager Philip Sanders said: "The planners take so long to make a decision and we are unlikely to get permission for a glasshouse as the field is next to an area of outstanding natural beauty. These panels seem to be the best idea and can give a good return. We are ploughing ahead and waiting for feedback from the planners."

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