Don’t let the sun go down on solar says London Assembly

The London Assembly’s Environment Committee has called on local authorities and the mayor to encourage more solar energy in the capital.

A new report, entitled ‘Bring me sunshine! How London’s homes could generate more solar energy’ claims London has the lowest amount of installed solar power capacity in the UK and Government plans to cut the Feed-in-Tariff will result in thousands of job losses for the capital’s green energy companies.

It also calls on both the current mayor, Boris Johnson and the next incumbent to argue for greater stability in solar PV policy with gradual reductions in subsidies.

The GLA should ensure that major developments, which are suitable for solar PV are only permitted if solar panels are included in the design.

The report also recommends that the GLA should set out ways to increase domestic solar power for Londoners in its upcoming Energy Plan, paying particular attention to landlords in the private rented sector.

It also claims many home owners – and even some planning professionals – are still unsure about the need for planning permission where renewable energy technologies like solar PV are concerned, particularly in one of London’s many conservation areas. 

The report recommends London boroughs look at their own guidance to see if it could be improved and clarified. 

“We’ve seen this week the impact of solar power on London’s economy, with reports that job losses could be in the thousands should the changes to the FIT go ahead,” said Environment Committee Chair, Darren Johnson.

“This serves to highlight that growth in the capital’s green energy sector would create jobs and skills for many Londoners. The environmental benefits are also not to be overlooked, as an increase in domestic solar power will ultimately contribute to climate stability, which affects us all.  

“Whilst we appreciate that there are limitations, our report recognises that both the current and incoming Mayor have a significant role to play.”

Jamie Hailstone is a freelance journalist and author, specializing in local government, transport and energy issues