HUNDREDS of green energy jobs in Yorkshire could be put at risk because of a hike in business rates, an MP has warned.
Barnsley East MP Michael Dugher claimed the proposed change in rates on energy generated by solar planels could have dire consequences.
He argued the hike in rates could make solar installations more expensive to run than the income from the power generated.
Mr Dugher expressed concern that making solar panels less attractive could damage an industry which currently employs almost 3,000 people in Yorkshire.
He said: “The Tories once promised to lead the ‘greenest government ever’, but with this plan to increase taxes on clean, renewable energy, Ministers are completely undermining the green energy sector.
“This poorly thought out tax hike for solar installations will make many projects simply unviable, putting thousands of jobs in the sector across Yorkshire and Humber at risk.
“There is still time for the plan to be dropped before it takes effect in April 2017.
“The Government should rethink these damaging proposals before it is too late.”
As part of a broader review of business rates, the Valuation Office Agency has proposed major increases on what is charged on energy generated by solar panels on properties such as businesses, schools and hospitals.
It is proposing to raise the current charge of £8 per kilowatt to between £43 to £61, a six-fold increase.
If the proposal goes through it would mean a business with a 100 kilowatt solar installation that now pays around £350 a year in business rates would face a bill of up to £2,600.
The solar industry has been campaigning to persuade the Government to review the proposal.
Earlier this month, the Treasury said it would be launching a consultation on possible “transitional relief” to help with the adjustment to new business rate levels.
Installations of solar panels have already fallen following the Government’s decision to reduce the subsidies available to householders earlier this year. The subsidy cut has been blamed for the closure of solar installations companies but the Government has argued the move was needed to protect household bills.