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WITH more and more Britons reported to be taking second jobs purely in order to pay their fuel bills, it is understandable why the Government felt it necessary to cut financial incentives for solar electricity.

For, while the inducements to householders to fix solar panels to their homes and sell some of the power produced back to the National Grid proved very popular with wealthier householders, the subsidy was recouped by added costs to fuel bills which have hurt the poorest customers hardest.

The peremptory way in which the subsidy was halved, however, has caused major difficulties for companies who had customers queuing up for panels to be installed and who had factored this income into their financial plans. As a result, two firms, along with environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth, have taken the Government to court and won an urgent hearing next week.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the original scheme, the Government cannot make policy on the hoof like this. The self-styled greenest government ever has indicated its plans to press ahead with renewable-energy development and customers and contractors alike have made plans contingent on this.

If U-turns are in the offing, then they need to be performed gracefully and with sufficient notice, not a sudden crunching into reverse gear.

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