ECC Media Release | City Council Scoops Environment Award

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17 March 2016

City Council Scoops Environment Award

LGA Awards - Group shot

A green-thinking council has won recognition at the highest level for its efforts to become an energy-neutral authority.

Exeter City Council beat off tough competition from dozens of other local authorities to win the Environment Award at last night’s Local Government Chronicle Awards in London.

Judges described Exeter’s submission as an “Excellent project, well-funded and supported and able to demonstrate achievements.”

The reward recognises the City Council’s work over recent years to reduce its carbon footprint and encourage others to do the same. By bringing in environmentally-friendly initiatives like solar panels and energy efficient lighting, the Council is able to save money and protect the environment at the same time.

The City Council is striving to become an energy neutral council by 2050.

Cllr Rachel Sutton, Lead Councillor for City Development, said: “I am delighted that the LGC has recognised the work we are doing at the City Council. Thanks to a whole host of green-thinking initiatives we will see a massive 37% reduction in energy consumption here at the Civic Centre and throughout our other buildings.”

The delivery of a vast programme of energy efficiency and solar PV projects, including some ground-breaking initiatives over the last year will bring about savings and a gross income of over £500,000 per annum. This is of huge benefit to the Council, reducing budgets and protecting Council services, as well as supporting the community and businesses.

Pioneering Solar PV canopies – the first of their kind in the UK – have been placed on two city centre car parks, and the latest installation is a 1.5MW array at the Council’s Livestock Centre. This is believed to be the largest roof top solar array in the South West, with 5,246 panels.

The PV array completed in December, follows the installation of a new roof on the building, funded by the savings and income generated by the solar panels. The array will produce 1,404mwh of energy a year, enough to power 335 homes and save 790 tonnes of carbon a year.

The Council also recently completed a solar PV installation at the former Electricity Building – now the Quay Climbing Centre – which enables the Council to sell renewable energy generated at a discounted price to the leaseholder. A second scheme of this type has also benefited the Exeter CVS at Wat Tyler House.

Other highlights have seen the City Council install Park & Plug car charging points in car parks around the City and the local authority’s involvement in the setting up of district heating networks like the one at Exeter Skypark and in the near future at the Monkerton housing development.

– Ends – 

LGA award

#LGCawards | Becoming an Energy Neutral Council




Exeter City Council has been nominated for two awards in the LGA Awards 2016

Environment Award [sponsored by Repic]

This award is awarded to mark excellence in any aspect of councils’ work in environmental services, including sustainability, recycling, refuse collection, and street cleaning. Entries will be judged on the innovation of their submissions and the extent to which it has improved the environment in their area and/or the efficiency of service delivery.

Submissions should focus on:

  • A full description of the project and its aims;
  • A detailed explanation of costs, how it was funded and where the expertise for it came from;
  • The impact of the council’s work on the lives of local people, for instance by showing how their concerns led to a positive response;
  • Evidence that the project has met its goals.

Award entries will be judged upon:

  • The extent to which the council’s work was an innovative response to a significant concern and potentially can be replicated in other areas;
  • The quality of the outcomes obtained from the project, for instance in improved or more efficient services;
  • Evidence of buy-in to the project or its goals from members of the local community or external organisations.


  • Bristol City Council
  • Cambridgeshire County Council
  • Exeter City Council
  • Keep Britain Tidy
  • Lincolnshire County Council/Keep Britain Tidy
  • London Borough of Lambeth
  • London Borough of Tower Hamlets
  • Public Power Solutions, a Wholly Owned Company of Swindon Borough Council
  • Staffordshire County Council

Efficiency [sponsored by National Audit Office]

Councils face continued pressure to reduce costs and increase their efficiency. Many have now reached the point at which further efficiency can be achieved only by innovative approaches and new relations with citizens and partner organisations. The focus is on how to secure “better for less”. This award is intended to highlight how the most imaginative councils are facing this challenge.

Submissions should focus on:

  • Outlining your savings and efficiency targets for 2013-14,  2014-15 and beyond, the extent to which you achieved those targets and the evidence you use to both set targets and measure performance against them;
  • How you have used the pressure to cuts costs to prompt organisational change and secure improved outcomes;
  • The main drivers of and barriers to securing efficiencies;
  • How you have engaged local citizens, service users and partner organisations in this work.

Award entries will be judged on:

  • The scale of the council’s ambition and the extent to which it has succeeded in achieving it;
  • Whether securing savings and efficiencies has driven service improvements;
  • The process the council adopted, including stakeholder engagement;
  • The quality and use of the evidence base available to the council.


  • ENGIE & North Tyneside Council
  • Exeter City Council
  • Hampshire County Council and Argenti Teleheathcare
  • Leeds City Council
  • London Borough of Ealing
  • London Borough of Newham
  • Peterborough City Council
  • South London SEN Commissioning Programme
  • Thurrock Council

The submissions for both categories were based on this document

Becoming an Energy Neutral Council

Exeter City Council is a cost efficient, forward thinking Council, working to reduce its carbon footprint and encouraging others to do the same. A new commitment to make real change and deliver Exeter’s aspiration to become a lead sustainable authority has been embarked on. The goal is to deliver long term financial and carbon savings as Exeter strives to become an energy neutral council. This ambition is supported by an innovative programme of energy efficient and renewable initiatives, financially supported and already producing substantial savings.

The City Council’s target is to reduce its base load energy consumption, deliver financial savings and cut carbon emissions to support Council services as well as supporting the community and business.

Building a Sustainable Council

Consumption across all council assets increased in 2012/13 at a rate of 19%. This pattern of energy consumption was unsustainable and presented a real threat to the ability of Exeter City Council to continue to provide quality services. As a result a new fully enabled commercially driven Energy Team was established in Corporate Property Assets to drive forward a Renewables and Energy Efficiency Programme. The team laid down an ambitious programme to achieve energy reduction, to generate renewable energy, to be an energy neutral Council. In addition, the programme would tackle carbon produced (4500 tonnes in 2012/13) with a 20% reduction achievable by year 3.

The Renewables and Energy Efficiency Programme

Solar PV installed in early 2013 to four main Council facilities proved far reaching and demonstrated the value of renewable technology. To date the PV array’s at the Council’s Civic Centre, Oakwood House Office, Materials Recycling Facility, and Museum Store has exceeded the Government’s performance data by 32%; subsequently the project is predicted to break even within 5 years and will provide an index linked income stream for a further 15 years. During the first full year of operation, the 180kW PV array delivered an income of nearly £48,000 and saved 82 tonnes of carbon.

Exeter Citizen, Winter 2013
Exeter Citizen, Winter 2013

The innovative Renewables and Energy Efficiency Programme included further PV installations to Council buildings, including a pioneering Solar Canopy Car Park project (PV arrays to the top deck of car parks), an installation on the Grade II listed Royal Albert Memorial Museum, City Climb Centre and a 1.5MW array to the Council’s Livestock Centre. In addition, the Climb Centre, Car Park Arrays and Livestock Centre all provide energy to other organisations. Using a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) the Council has become an energy provider, selling discounted renewable energy to its leaseholders, supporting local business and the voluntary sector with cheaper energy bills.

3D image of Livestock Centre 1.5MW array (currently being installed)
3D image of Livestock Centre 1.5MW array (installed December 2015)

Real Innovation – Solar Canopy Arrays on Multi-story Car Parks

The Solar Canopy arrays are installed on two of our largest City Centre Car Parks, our most complex solar project to date. The solar Car Park project has broken new ground, not only in the South West, but also nationally and represents innovation that can be shared. The PV arrays will provide an income of over £50,000 per annum over 25years, generating 285,227 kwh per year of renewable energy, and saving 150 tonnes of CO2 per year. They present:

  • Zero Carbon. Linked to low energy lighting installed, a zero carbon parking service is achieved.
  • Dual Benefit. The Car Park Canopy structures provided undercover parking, providing for more attractive parking, happier customers and increased parking revenue.
  • Technical Innovation. The Solar canopy project is a UK first and provides a workable structural and parking solution.
  • Solar EV Charging. Car Park Users will be able to charge Electric Vehicles for free using renewable energy.
  • Community Benefit. Local installer, local design and engineering, visible profile promoting the benefits of solar PV, and sale of energy to local voluntary group based in a building next to Car Park.
John Lewis Car Park Canopy 150kw array, under Construction.
John Lewis Car Park Canopy 150kw array, under construction
Mary Arches Car Park 150kw Canopy array in operation
Mary Arches Car Park 150kw Canopy array in operation

Other energy efficiency measures in buildings

It can be seen that renewable technology provides for enormous cost savings and delivers long term income. By the same token, key energy saving projects are vital if Exeter is to reduce consumption and to make for a sustainable property asset.

An LED lighting replacement project at the Council’s main offices has proved a huge success reducing consumption by 60%, demonstrating significant long term energy and cost savings of £32,000 per annum. Additional benefits include reduced maintenance and improved lighting which has made for better working environment.

LED lighting has also been effectively installed in city centre car parks, again reducing electricity consumption, in some cases up to 65% (see snapshot below- Harlequins Car Park). As well as reduced maintenance/ administration costs the lighting is significantly improved, making for well lit and safer car parking.


Screen shot 2016-03-16 at 14.34.19

The success of the LED project is shared with residents to promote the benefits of LED, featuring in the Council’s quarterly newspaper delivered to every home in the City.

Exeter Citizen, Spring 2014
Exeter Citizen, Spring 2014

Further energy efficiency schemes include removing paper towels and installation of low energy hand driers, water saving devices which have delivered savings of over £20,000 per annum since installation in 2013, and replacement of the incumbent oil fired boilers that heat the Civic Offices with gas boilers..

The new efficient boilers allow for a saving of over £28,000 per annum and the removal of oil provides a significant carbon saving. The space left as a result of the clearing the existing oil tanks provides a new bike store for staff, encouraging green travel.

Future energy saving measures planned include staff engagement projects to reduce consumption further, to tackle the unoccupied base load of the Civic Offices, utilising low energy kitchen facilities. This will not only deliver a financial return, but make for an improved and more creative working environment.

All in all the Civic Centre has been transformed into an energy efficient building, benefiting from significant cost and carbon savings, as well setting an example of best practice. This is clearly demonstrated by the energy consumption graph below.

Civic Centre energy consumption (kwh’s)
Civic Centre energy consumption (kWh)

Real Change

The Council’s aspiration for Energy Neutrality, through self financed investment in renewables and other energy saving schemes, forms an essential cornerstone to achieving a 20% reduction in carbon emissions, whilst essentially safeguarding public services through income generation.

A strategy to deliver an Energy Neutral Council is one built on:

  • Maximising our Commercial Business Opportunities. All projects are delivered on the basis of a robust business case. The income and savings delivered create new income streams which support key Council services.
  • Leadership. Exeter has been able to share its expertise and influence local residents and business as well as influencing the national energy agenda.
  • Wellbeing. Energy projects can help to improve wellbeing and supporting community energy schemes, and to assist in reducing fuel poverty.
  • Sustainable Economic Development. Energy projects present an opportunity to stimulate growth by generation of local jobs.
  • Energy Security. A consistent, reliable and affordable energy supply providing greater sustainability, energy security and protection against environmental and carbon taxes.
  • Carbon Reduction. Lover environmental impact, improved well being for the people of Exeter. A low carbon City.

Real Savings

To date the savings are clear, with energy consumption of the Council’s total estate cut by 2.5milllion kwh. Based on projects completed up to December 2015 a reduction of 15.25% is achieved in 2015/16 and a gross income of £319,000. Moreover projects recently completed, all within year 2 of the programme will provide for considerable decline in consumption, a reduction of 37% in 2016/17 and a gross income of £522,000, with a carbon saving of 24%.

ECC - Total energy use
ECC – Total energy use

The above is the work of a dedicated and enthusiastic Energy Team of two people, that in itself demonstrates real achievement. The projects realised are substantial and already provide real and significant savings, demonstrating leadership for community benefit. The Energy Team’s individual expertise has gained support from elected members, enabling all projects to be self financed by the Council. Future projects planned and future development of the Renewables and Energy Saving Programme will ensure Exeter continues to reduce energy consumed, increase renewable energy generated and achieve its aspiration to be an Energy Neutral Council.

Other Projects and Collaboration

The following projects demonstrate Exeter is fast becoming a lead authority, one that is collectively making ground breaking steps to be a truly low carbon City, and one that sets a standard for all.

Electric vehicles

Last year, the Council underwent a fleet review by the Energy Saving Trust. This indicated that savings could be generated by the replacement of life-expired vehiclesby electric rather than petrol or diesel versions. Generally our vehicles do not travel beyond our compact administrative area, so the limited range of such vehicles is not an issue. The first phase of a new electric vehicle fleet is underway with electric pool cars and small operational vans already in service.

Exeter Citizen, Summer 2014
Exeter Citizen, Summer 2014

The above acquisition was made possible by our success with a bid to OLEV in 2013, which has provided for seven twin charging points. The chargepoints are called ‘Plug and Park’ Stations and the design is a highly visible one promoting Electric Vehicle use. The chargepoints are situated in key city locations, including car parks where they are available for public use. Drivers pay the normal parking charge but do not have to pay for charging.

Low Carbon Task Force

The Council is an active member of the Exeter and Heart of Devon Low Carbon Task Force, an association of public and private sector organisations reporting to the Growth Board for the area, including local authorities, Chamber of Commerce, Eon, the University of Exeter, and the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital (RDE).

The Task Force drives the delivery of a low carbon economy, working to:  Develop low carbon heating and power solutions in the Exeter and East

Devon Growth Point.  Explore opportunities to develop a city centre heat network.  Help local businesses to save energy and adopt new technologies.  Develop Eco opportunities to eco-refurbish homes.

District Heat Networks

The Council is working with key stakeholder and the Low Carbon Task Force to develop goals listed above, including two district heat networks in Exeter. Such a system is already operating in Cranbrook, this takes heat from a CHP plant to dwellings in the town and the Skypark employment area.

A similar scheme is underway for Monkerton, a strategic development area in the east of the city, with a site available for a CHP plant to which major landowners have signed up. A further scheme, as part of a city centre regeneration project on thecurrent Exeter bus station site, includes retrofitting some existing large premises such as the RDE, and linking to a new Energy from Waste Plant at Marsh Barton. The Council is working with partners on a delivery model, including an Energy Supply Company with public sector involvement to deliver the city centre scheme.

The Council has used planning conditions and section 106 obligations to ensure that new development in the relevant areas is designed to be compatible with a district heating network, and to connect to such a network when it becomes available. Section 106 obligations have also secured essential financial contributions.

Low Emissions Strategy

In 2013/14 the Council was awarded Air Quality Grant funding by DEFRA to develop a Low Emissions Strategy for Exeter. This is important because the city was designated an Air Quality Management Area where nitrogen dioxide concentrations exceed objectives because of traffic emissions. The strategy will deliver innovative and sustainable ways to reduce nitrogen dioxide emissions, working with key stakeholders to ensure that carbon and air quality policy are mutually beneficial, and improve the health of those living close to the busiest roads.

Sustainable Procurement

The Green Accord is a proven environmental accreditation scheme developed by Exeter City Council, Global Action Plan and key local businesses. It has received national acclaim (see national award recognition below), endorsement from the audit commission and is a standard used by other public bodies such as Exeter University and the MET Offce.

The Green Accord is an accreditation that drives sustainability and addresses the environmental responsibilities facing those who procure. It demonstrates best practice and the reduction of environmental impact through the whole supply chain, by demanding practical actions and the instigation of alternative working practices. To date the scheme has helped hundreds of businesses to make efficiencies, improve working practices and reduce operational costs, not only providing for environmental savings but also improved business worth.

Screen shot 2016-03-16 at 14.49.48

Exeter City Council was announced WINNER of the Environment category at the LGC Awards 2016 ceremony on the evening of 16 March 2016.

LGA Awards - Group shot

LGA Award - Trophy


My Storify feed: 16/03/16 | @LGCawards #LGCawards

An election elevator pitch for a floating voter

It’s election countdown time – so time to prepare an elevator pitch for a floating voter!

“You’re a floating voter, you say. Over the next one hundred days or so, you’re going to be bombarded with facts and figures by all parties to try and convince you to vote for them.

And I’m going to be no different!

I’m proud of what Exeter Labour have done for the city.

Council Tax in the city is one of the lowest in the country, but by using our assets – our car parks and property portfolio – we’ve managed to avoid the worst ravages of auterity cuts imposed by the Tory-led Coalition Government. [1]

Exeter’s track record of increasing productivity has been highlighted as one of the best in the UK, second only to oil-rich Aberdeen. [2]

As a result, Exeter has a thriving economy – with vacant shops in the city at half the national average.

We see culture is an economic driver of the city – and Exeter is only 1 of 3 local authorities that spends 50p per week per person on arts, culture and heritage.

As a council, we aspire to be energy neutral by the year 2020 – already an award-winning programme [3]

We already have solar PV panels on the roofs of many of our civic buildings, and now we’re planning to install them on the top decks of some of our car parks.

We’ve invested in electric vehicles and with Government grants have installed electric charging points around the city

We’re converting our office lighting to LED and will use motion sensors to switch them off when not needs.

So by voting for Exeter Labour, as well as RED you get GREEN.”

[1] Exeter Citizen [Spring 2014]

Screen shot 2015-01-26 at 11.17.37

[2] The State of The North  ed: Ed Cox and Luke Raikes [IPPR North, November 2014]

Screen shot 2015-01-26 at 10.32.27

[3] Exeter City Council – Becoming an Energy Neutral Council  in PSS Magazine [ November 2014] – Winner Best Energy Management in Public Sector Sustainability Awards 2014

Solar PV panels on Exeter’s city council car parks

It’s always risky claiming to be the first…with 14 men and 13 women as part of the ruling Exeter Labour Group on the 40 member Exeter City,  Council, I believe that we are one of the first to come close to 50:50 parity. Each and every time, I take care to qualify this claim.

So when I read on the website of Association of Green Councillors:
05 December 2014
Green councillor wins £200k for Britain’s first solar car park
alarm bells start ringing.

I started to read the article and notice Green councillor Simon Grover on St Albans Council is a little more cautious in describing his victory at the annual budget setting meeting on 03 December 2014 , where he as 1 of 29 who voted through an amendment that approved £200,000 investment in solar PV units for council-owned open air car parks (with a majority of one).

Simon said: “I am not aware of any other UK council car parks that use these, though there will be privately-run ones.”

And he went on to say  that this would be “subject to all the usual planning and costing checks, but work should year.”

But I KNOW that St Alban isn’t the first local authority to place solar PV panels on the top decks of their car parks.

Exeter City Council started to install solar PV panels on the roofs of Council building in March 2013, and by April 2013 Exeter Labour Party were already considering schemes for placing solar panels on other buildings including building canopies above the top deck of car parks.

I sit on Exeter City Council’s Scrutiny Committee: Resources which considered at it’s meeting on 19 March 2014 a reported entitled “An Energy Neutral Council – A Renewables and Energy Efficient Programme

The purpose of the report was “To support a programme of renewable and energy saving initiatives that will assist in the delivery of corporate priorities around improving the environment and maintaining the assets of the city as well as providing essential income and long term savings to the Council.”

The Resources Committee agreed to the recommendations and the report moved on to be considered at the Executive meeting of 01 April 2014.

They RESOLVED that:
(1) progress made to date in delivering renewable and energy efficient initiatives be noted;
(2) proposed new initiatives, included in Phase I and II as set out in the report be endorsed;
(3) the Corporate Manager Property, in consultation with the Portfolio Holder Enabling Services, Deputy Chief Executive and Assistant Director Finance be authorised to approve delivery of further energy saving projects within the Capital Programme funding allocation; and
(4) progress and outcomes of the programme be reported to Scrutiny Committee – Resources on a regular basis.

One of the first ideas to be explored was to  progress the earlier plans to install solar PV panels on the City Council’s car parks.

The plans were reported in the E&E – City Council plans to fit solar panels to Exeter car parks (27 March 2014)

The plans were outlined in an article in E&E in Council plans more than 1000 solar panels over Exeter’s car parks in ‘ground breaking project’ (04 November 2014).

The Planning Committee held on 08 December 2014 considered 2 applications:

14/4623/16:  Installation of photovoltaic solar panels on the top deck of John Lewis multi-storey car park.

14/4624/16:  Installation of photovoltaic solar panels on the top deck of Mary Arches multi-storey car park. 

and both were approved.

So I’m not going to claim that Exeter City Council will be the first local authority to install solar PV panels in our owns car parks – but we are certainly in their with the vanguard with our ground breaking plans.

Changes to Fit -in Tariffs casts shadow on solar PV industry

Earlier this evening I seconded a motion, proposed by Cllr Catherine Dawson of Mincinglake condeming the Conservative/LibDem coalition governments sham consultatioj over the rushed plans to change the level of Feed-In Tariff payment to those installing solar PV panels on their roofs.

Announced at the end of October, the changes came into effect yesterday, 10 days before the end of a consultation on the matter.

The motion:
This Council calls on the Government to reverse its cruel cuts to the tariff which will harm a lot of residents in Exeter.

They are planning to cut the tariff for solar PV installations with a capacity of 4KW or less by more than 50% from 43p/kWh to 21p/kWh. For multiple installations the rate falls to 16.8p/kWh.

Their rushed cuts to the Feed in tariff for solar PV goes too far, too fast, hits families trying to protect themselves from soaring energy bills, put thousands of jobs and businesses in the solar industry in jeopardy and give lie to the government’s promise to be the “greenest government ever”

My speech seconding the motion:
My Lord Mayor

As a long-time supporter of Green causes, it gives me great pleasure to second this resolution.

And I’m pleased that this is on a day when there are protests outside Parliament asking the Government to Cut Not Kill the solar power industry and two days before a legal challenge to the changes

But first I must declare a couple of interests. 

Earlier in the year, SunGift Solar installed a Solar PV system on our roof and it’s currently generating electricity.

I’d like to thank Sungift Solar for honouring their pledge to put up Exeter’s Christmas lights for free.

The change in payments under the FiT scheme has meant they’ve been extremely busy, trying to install 6 months’ worth of orders [some 50 systems or so] in 6 weeks.

I am also a member of the Labour Party – the Party that in April 2010 introduced the Feed-In Tariff scheme [which is commonly shortened to FiT]

The FiT scheme is a process used by over 40 countries around the world that pays people to generate electricity from solar photovoltaic [PV] panels funded by a small levy on all energy bills

When the FiT was introduced by Labour in April last year, the Uk belatedly joined the party in one of the fastest growing markets of any kind globally.

The Feed-in Tariff certainly isn’t perfect, but it’s been incredibly successful at getting panels on roofs.

This doesn’t just help people reduce their electricity bills and carbon emissions – there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that seeing the panels in action (and reaping the rewards) can change the way people think about energy.

They then are more likely to make climate-friendly choices in other areas of their lives.

Yet back it when it was announced  back in April 2010 it was criticised by the Conservative opposition.

Heavily criticised.

Greg Clark, then Shadow Energy Secretary said:
“FITs are essential to allow decentralised energy to play a major role in our energy mix, but Labour’s proposals today lack ambition. 

“Ministers should have been bolder with this scheme so more jobs could have been created and greater reductions in emissions could have been achieved.”

But even before that, back in 2007, David Cameron welcomed FiT schemes when spoke [on video] to a Greenpeace conference.

Yes he was green. He was extremely green.

He was green with envy of the generous FiT scheme in Germany.

He saw how it was taking British-made technology and putting it on German roofs.

He wanted – and I quote –

“The right plans and the right political will to drive through a mass market for micro-generation”

So here’s a phrase I thought I’d never utter – 


In Opposition, both the Lib-Dems and Tories dismissed the Labour initiative as pitifully unambitious. 

In Government, they pledged to do much more.

The Coalition Agreement even pledged to make FiT the centrepiece of their commitment to ‘community owned renewable energy generation’. 

But you would never guess it now.

So what went wrong?

Were they got at by the Big 6 Energy Companies – and their paid lobbyists?

Did they listen to the Nuclear Industry – and their paid lobbyists?

All I know is that the solar energy industry was too busy putting solar PV panels on people roofs to have time to pay for lobbyists.

I’m proud of my green credentials to add to my socialist beliefs. I’m a Green Red

David seems to have taken his green thoughts, mixed them with his true blue blood and turned yellow.

I’m not criticising him for changing his mind – 
I’m criticising him for changing his mind from being so right to being so wrong.

Let’s look at some figures:

 The UK solar energy industry employs 25,000 professionals compared with just 3,000 in 2010 
 The number of solar businesses has increased from 450 in 2010 to over 3,000 today 
 Since the introduction of tariffs in 2010 a total of 87,769 solar installations have been completed in the UK 

All of which could help the Tory Government meet its claim of being the greenest government yet – and at the same help the private sector create new jobs.

There are even more figures being bandied around about the cost of the FiT scheme.

I believe that might cost each household about £1.50 each year.

Ofgem, the energy regulator, confirms this estimate.

But is only might because other studies say the Treasury gets more back in tax and NI (from the jobs created) than it costs to run the scheme. 

Either way, it is not a sum around which the economy will crumble

Greg Barker, Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change, isn’t sure what it will cost.

Each and every announcement seems to put the cost higher –

First £26, 
Then £28 but its assumed that was a slip of the tongue
Then it went up to £55 and now rests around £80.

However, a figure that can’t be disputed is the one for decommissioning nuclear power stations.

The UK tax payer pays hundreds of times more than this towards the cost of decommissioning nuclear power stations and looking after the nuclear waste they generate.

According to the Government’s own figures, £6.93bn of taxpayers’ money was given to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority in 2010-2011. 

That figure equates to £260 per household.

We talk about micro-generation but it can generate a lot of electricity

 the energy generation of solar power now exceeds the 225 megawatts maximu operating     capacity of the Oldbury nuclear power plant 

The cuts to the Feed-In Tariff will deprive the UK of a booming green industry that is driving jobs growth and providing an environmentally sustainable and long-term alternative to other fossil-fuel dependent methods of electricity.

Already leading solar firm Carillion has confirmed that some 4,500 jobs are now under threat due to the planned cut to the subsidy.

Indeed the firm that put solar panels on the Kensington roof of the Prime Minister have already laid off 2 workers.

So rashly withdrawing support from this burgeoning industry will be disastrous for both our economy and the environment.

What might not be known is that from the start it was always planned that Feed-in Tariffs were supposed to decrease annually, as the price of technology falls. 

Unlike nuclear, solar does not need subsidising forever.

That was part of attraction. 

There would be staged reductions in in the tariff, down to zero within the decade.

These reductions in tariff were to have been there to fairly reflect falling solar prices, and were planned so as to be not be too deep to stall the development of a domestic UK solar industry.

Cutting so far and so fast as this Government has done will put thousands of solar workers out of a job and pull the rug out from under small community groups that have already poured time and effort into their projects, but don’t stand a chance of meeting the new deadline.

Take Brighton Energy Cooperative, which was due to start selling shares but has been forced to put the entire project on hold until further notice. 

Reading Council announced that they’d be drastically scaling back their school solar programme. 

Even this Council’s own programme for solar PV panels on nearly 500 council homes was in doubt – but thanks to quick negotiations from our officers that one, at least, was rescued

Do these cuts need to happen at all?

Unlike other government programmes, the FiT scheme isn’t funded from general taxation – the costs are covered by a levy on energy bills. 

When the Labour government was designing the scheme, they came up with an estimate of how much it would cost, and planned to revisit this figure once they had some proper take-up data.

When the coalition came into power and kicked off the spending review, they took this estimate, cut it by 10% and set that as the overall budget for the whole programme. 

It’s not clear why the scheme was included in the spending review at all, since it isn’t funded directly by the treasury and doesn’t increase the deficit; but whatever the reason, it means that the whole idea of a Fit ‘budget’ is an invention of this government.

Decisions like this are really just a question of priorities – if a government really wants to do something it wil always find a way of financing it.

But in any case the impact of the Feed-in Tariff is tiny compared to spiraling gas prices and energy companies’ profits 

And even if we rule out any bill increases, there are plenty of other ways to meet the cost – from a direct levy on energy company profits, to reallocating money from other programmes that have underspent. 

Yet it recently emerged that climate minister Chris Huhne never even asked the treasury whether they could provide emergency funding to allow the cuts to be phased in gradually.

The real measure of a government lies in the choices it makes when there’s no easy option. Ministers need to ask themselves: when all is said and done, will these cuts bring us closer to a truly low-carbon economy, or will they push it further over the horizon?

Any government that wants to be remembered as the “greenest ever” must put this question at the heart of every decision, but especially over this particular decision.

I say “From the greenest government ever to the meanest government ever”. 

The co-coalition has done a huge U-turn and is now doing nothing less than demoralizing – and demonizing – the solar power industry as a matter of course.

Over the weekend I was speaking with Caroline Flint, Labour’s Shadow Energy Secretary and we agreed that history will record that Labour began this growth industry and the Tories will all but kill it off in its infancy if these mindless changes to the FiT scheme are not reversed.

It gives me great pleasure to second the resolution

A lively debate followed with the motion falling to a Lib Dem amendment suggesting sending comments from the City Council to the very consultation I believe is a sham – only passed by local Tories and Lib Dems voting together and the casting vote of the Lord Mayor.

For me, the most pleasing comment came from Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group, who commended Labour “Central Office” for supporting us both with all the facts and figures.

No James, that was all our own intelligent factual research! We both hae enquiring minds that we like to put to good use.