The Church of Scotland has said it is not happy with the way a consultation into feed-in tariffs has been carried out.
The consultation which finished on Friday 23 December proposed to reduce the feed-in tariff rate for domestic scale solar PV installations, up to 4kWp to 21p from the current rate of 43p.
Housing associations have been leading the way in solar panel installations in Scotland and have helped moderate fuel price increases for low income families. The Church of Scotland shares the concerns of the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations that further work will be jeopardised.
The Rev Ian Galloway, Convener of the Church of Scotland’s Church and Society Council, whose Council has taken part in the consultation said that the changes may well be regressive and would hit housing associations who have been at the forefront of energy efficient saving ideas and affect congregations looking to reduce their carbon footprint.
Mr Galloway declared: “This review has shaken the confidence of churches that are looking to reduce their carbon footprint. The proposals to make energy performance certificates a means of measuring the energy efficient of church buildings is not helpful. Energy performance certificates are not useful in promoting energy efficiency in old and historic buildings such as churches.”
The Church of Scotland also said it disagrees with the proposal of applying the new tariffs to all new solar PV installations with an eligibility date that is on or after a reference date which comes before the legal implantation of the tariffs.
Mr Galloway said: “The speed which the changes have been introduced is very unfortunate. It seems perverse to introduce changes before the period of consultation is complete and raises questions why the changes are being rushed through with undue haste.”
The pace of changes also hits churches particularly hard. Churches cannot install solar panels quickly because many of them are historic buildings and any significant change to the building fabric requires the consent of botch church authorities, the Kirk Session or Presbytery, and secular authorities, including the local planning authorities.