David Prosser: The day the sun stopped shining

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The Independent Online

Outlook Remember the green economy? So do the 4,500 workers told yesterday by their employer, Carillion, that they are at risk of redundancy because the Government has slashed the subsidies on offer to people who install solar panels on their homes. The cuts take effect next week, even before a consultation exercise on the future of feed-in tariffs has finished, and they are drastic.

Any industry threatened by Government policy cries wolf and threatens merry hell (ask the City about the banking levy, for example). And the solar community, if it is being candid, will concede the feed-in tariff scheme had become over-generous, not least because the cost of the technology has been falling rapidly. Still, its warnings that the effects of cuts of this scale would be devastating are already being borne out – Carillion is just the latest in a string of solar specialists to pull back.

Greg Barker, the minister responsible for the feed-in scheme, has this week told MPs he is unrepentant – if anything, he says, he should have acted even sooner because demand for the scheme had outstripped all expectations. That may be the case, but the thousands of job losses that have resulted, suggest that if Mr Barker wasn't over-hasty, he was certainly heavy-handed.