As regular readers will have noticed, the government's surprise decision to launch a fast-track review of feed-in tariff incentives for large solar installations has stirred up quite a hornet's nest of controversy.
A month on from the announcement, we are still seeing a steady stream of articles analysing, investigating, and questioning the decision and the solar industry's response.
Meanwhile, I am still receiving phone calls and emails on a near-daily basis from solar developers, NGOs and other interested parties pointing out the perceived iniquities of the decision. And after a shaky start, the government and the solar firms broadly in favour of the review have stepped up efforts to get their side of the story across, arguing the review is necessary to protect support for domestic rooftop solar panels.
But where on earth is the review itself? (Although I am aware that in asking this question, it will probably now be released today.)
According to several solar industry insiders, the review was originally expected to appear on Tuesday. But Tuesday came and went without any further developments.
There are good reasons why the review has to be released within the next few days. If the government is to conduct a proper consultation that does not leave it open to a legal challenge, it will need to release draft review documents for at least a couple of months. It will then have to finalise its proposals and put them before parliament for 40 days. It is widely understood that one of the main targets of the review is to stop a "gold rush" of solar farms being built over the summer, which means the government will want the changes finalised before the parliament summer recess begins on 19 July. In short, the clock is ticking.
So where are the consultation documents? Has there been a hold-up?
DECC officials will say only that they will launch the consultation "as soon as possible".
But the word on the street is that there has indeed been a delay, and it could be the result of one of the most powerful forces in the land: the National Farmers Union (NFU).
According to our sources, Defra and its farmer-friendly ministers are contributing to the apparent delay because the NFU is "up in arms" at the scale of the proposed cuts to incentives that were meant to encourage its members to invest in renewable energy.
We do know that back on February 11 the NFU's chief renewable energy adviser Dr Jonathan Scurlock told Wrights Farming Register that farmers were not happy about the changes. "The NFU is deeply concerned that all solar PV projects above 50 kilowatts are to be included in the FITs review – this will include many agricultural rooftop projects involving as little as £150,000 investment," he said. "This hardly seems like the right way to reward the success that the FITs had achieved so far, in bringing new sources of investment into land-based renewables. Alongside the domestic scale, agricultural, industrial and community renewable schemes have a vital role to play in green growth."
If the farming union is indeed taking the fight to the government over the changes, it is the first bit of good news solar developers have had since the fast-track review was announced.
After all, it is a rare Conservative government indeed that angers the NFU and lives to tell the tale.
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