Solar industry 'hit by hammer blow'

Reports that the government has confirmed that subsidies for rooftop solar panels 'will be hit by heavy cuts, and government support for large scale solar projects will also be scrapped' feature in today's newspaper round-up.

The Independent reports that "although reductions to support for household solar panels and small wind turbines are smaller than had been originally proposed, campaigners said the 65 per cent cut would be a ‘hammer blow for households, jobs and UK plans for tackling climate change’".

The Telegraph reports that the subsidy cuts "could result in 18,700 job losses, ministers have admitted". The newspaper says that the "drastic reduction is nevertheless expected to deter more than 700,000 of the 900,000 households that would otherwise have installed the panels over the next five years. More than half of the 32,000 jobs in the solar panel installation industry could be lost as a result as work dries up, the government's impact assessment suggests."

The Financial Times (subscription required) reports that "dozens of new licences have been awarded to companies to frack for shale gas across England, as ministers look to replicate the US shale boom in the UK." The newspaper says that "officials at the Oil & Gas Authority on Thursday granted new fracking licences to 14 companies to explore in 124 different areas, prompting protests from green campaigners and predictions from ministers of a thriving shale industry for decades to come."

Local authorities "have warned of mounting pressure on already stretched local services, from elderly care to street lighting, after ministers confirmed that councils face billions of pounds more spending cuts, the Guardian reports. The newspaper says that councils "will be subjected to two years of especially harsh cuts from April after the government announced that town hall spending will fall by 6.7 per cent between 2016 and 2020. The bulk of the reductions will be frontloaded into the first half of the period before, in theory, easing off towards of the end of the parliament."

The Telegraph reports on "controversial proposals to build a new town" in the Hampshire district of Hart which has been chosen as the place with the best quality of life in the UK for five years in a row. The newspaper says that "opponents say the plans for as many as 5,000 homes - including hundreds of affordable units - and two new schools on a green field site near the village of Winchfield, threaten the very qualities that until now have made the area so desirable."

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