Few share cuts to subsidies fear

Thursday 5th June 2014 10:00 pm

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Richard Howell, of North Huish, South Brent, writes: In last week's paper you quoted Sonya Bedford, a partner and head of renewable energy at solicitors Stephens Scown as saying Government proposals to cut solar farm subsidies in April next year 'could be potentially devastating for the Westcountry'. Ms Bedford explained: 'With the highest irradiation levels in the UK, many solar developers have chosen to invest here, creating jobs and boosting our economy.' However, the reduction in subsidies would cause investors to question whether they should continue to invest in UK solar and that, said Ms Bedford, 'is bad news for the economy as a whole'. Unfortunately her claim that solar farms have created jobs and boosted the economy will come as a surprise to many in the South Hams. No local jobs have been created by the developments at Marley Thatch, Blue Posts or Hazard Farm, and none will be created by the development at Combeshead should it be allowed to go ahead. The solar panels themselves will have been manufactured in Germany or China and installed by workers from overseas, typically from Poland. Similarly the only local people to benefit economically are the landowners in question. Now there are plans by German company New Energy for the World for yet another solar farm near Diptford, this time on 23 acres of land at Lower Blakemore Farm, south of Tigley Cross and to the north-west of Harberton. Again the developers claim 'there would be significant employment during the construction of the PV park', although once more there is no suggestion that local people will benefit. The proposed cuts in solar farm subsidies might prove 'potentially devastating' to Ms Bedford's employment prospects and those landowners hoping to profit from such handouts, but it is unlikely that many others in the Westcountry will share her fears.

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