The Church of England is calling on the Government to slow down their plans to drop the rate of returns on electricity grid feed-in tariffs for solar panels to give churches, and other community groups, more time to complete installation. It is also asking for a special community tariff.
The sudden cuts announced two weeks ago look set to devastate the solar industry in the UK, and destroy thousands of jobs and small businesses.
A wide ranges of groups including the CBI  and the Green Party have condemned the move which they believe will cause even further problems for the economy, and undermine an important UK industry which was previously growing.
The online petition  from the Archbishops’ Council’s Cathedral and Church Building Division has already attracted almost 1000 signatures from both individuals and groups.
Already 35 Church of England churches have solar panels installed and more than 300 are actively considering a solar project.
Campaigners say the 50 per cent cut in return rate introduced for December 12 will penalise churches and other community groups who are committed to installing solar panels, but will not now have time to complete their projects before the deadline.
The installation of solar panels is promoted across the Church of England’s 44 dioceses as a way of using natural resources to reduce the carbon footprint of a church. The Church, through its national environment campaign Shrinking the Footprint, is committed to the Government’s carbon reduction targets of 80 per cent by 2050.
Martyn Goss, social responsibility officer for Exeter Diocese said: “This news is very disappointing. Here in the Southwest we have been encouraging churches to install panels and many will be adversely affected by this cut in tariff resulting in having the rug pulled from underneath them by such short-term political decision making”.
David Shreeve, the Church of England’s national environment officer said: “The returns on a solar project will not be as financially attractive as they were and take longer to pay back. Whilst in the life of a church building this is not a long time it will take us into the next generation. As well as enabling churches to use renewable energy, we see solar panels on church roofs as setting a brilliant example to their local communities.”