'Cameron isn't green – he's yellow,' says man who fitted his solar panels


Jane Merrick
Sunday 20 November 2011 00:00 GMT
Panel installer Brian Evans
Panel installer Brian Evans (Nick Dawe)

The man who helped David Cameron to burnish his green credentials by fitting solar panels to the roof of the PM's home accused him yesterday of "lying" over his commitment to the environment.

Brian Evans, who installed the system at the Camerons' London home in 2006, criticised the PM for "destroying" the solar electricity industry by slashing state subsidies for feed-in tariffs by more than half.

Mr Evans, who runs his own solar panel installation business, said he was being forced to lay off his only two employees because the Government was cutting funding for homes that generate solar electricity.

Mr Cameron paid about £4,000 to have three solar panels fitted to the roof of his house in North Kensington in 2006 – at a time when the Tory leader was laying claim to the environmental agenda.

But the Prime Minister now stands accused of selling out the green movement by authorising a drastic cut in the rate of feed-in tariffs for householders with solar panels. The new rate – 21p per kilowatt hour, cut from 43p per kwh – is being introduced next month, to the anger of environmental campaigners and businesses.

Last week The Independent on Sunday revealed how Mr Cameron was facing a widespread revolt over solar electricity, with a letter signed by 55 business groups and individuals condemning the move.

Mr Evans, 47, told The IoS that Mr Cameron's decision to install the solar panels – alongside a solar thermal system and a wind turbine – now appeared to be "tokenistic". He said: "Installing the three systems meant he could lay claim to his green credentials. It enabled him to say he had renewable energy on his property. It is the case that Cameron wanted his green credentials to be visible to the world. But I don't think he has any green credentials. I think he has yellow credentials – making decisions from a cowardly position. He and others in government got into government through lies. Even though they weren't lies at the time, they became lies because they don't have the strength to stick by the decisions in the first place.

"The guy obviously doesn't have green credentials – he has completely destroyed the industry."

Mr Evans, who has worked in the renewables industry since 2000 and is based in Newbury, Berkshire, said he did not know whether he could continue his business after the change to rates comes into effect on 12 December. He also questioned the Government's claims to be on the side of small businesses when firms such his were facing closure. "I am a single dad running a small business, employing a couple of people. We have already seen orders being cancelled."

Mr Evans said he recognised that the tariff needed to come down at some point, but called on ministers to reduce it gradually to minimise damage to the solar industry.

He insisted that it was not just middle-class families who were making money from generating their own solar electricity but that a large proportion of his work was for social housing.

In 2006, months after becoming Tory leader, Mr Cameron visited the Arctic Circle to highlight climate change – including being pictured with sled-pulling huskies – and announced he was having a wind turbine installed on his newly refurbished home to support green energy.

At the same time, three solar panels were fitted to the roof of his £1.5m home. Mr Evans did not meet Mr Cameron as the Tory leader and his family were staying elsewhere while the house was being refurbished.

The Camerons were forced to remove the wind turbine within weeks of it being fitted when neighbours complained it was an eyesore and the council ruled the device did not have planning permission – although the council later backtracked on its decision and the turbine went up.

In a speech in 2007, Mr Cameron promised an "energy revolution" by pledging fixed subsidies for homes that sold electricity generated through renewable energy back to the national grid.

He told an audience at Greenpeace: "Our plans will help create a mass market for micro-generation."

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