Labour reveals plan to install solar panels on millions of homes

Sienna Rodgers

Labour plans to install solar panels on nearly two million homes as part of an effort to reduce energy bills, Jeremy Corbyn and Rebecca Long-Bailey will announce on Thursday.

During a visit to Yorkshire, the Labour leader and Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy will set out further details of the party’s ‘green industrial revolution’ aim.

One goal is fit solar panels on one and three quarter million homes, which would save households an estimated average of £117 a year on bills – addressing fuel poverty while promoting an environmentally healthy and sustainable solution.

Social housing and low-income households make up one million of the homes that would benefit from the scheme. The other 750,000 homes would have solar panels installed “through a programme of interest free loans, grants and changes to regulations”.

As well as creating 16,900 jobs and saving 7.1 million tonnes of CO2 according to Labour, the policy forms part of the broader idea that the party would ensure a ‘just transition’ from the current economy to a low-carbon economy.

This type of ‘transition’ would ensure that the burden of change is not placed disproportionately on less wealthy people, who may find it more difficult to adapt, but will be socially just, and even reap financial rewards.

Unveiling the new policy, Jeremy Corbyn said: “In this country, too often people are made to feel like the cost of saving the planet falls on them. Too many think of green measures as just another way for companies or the government to get money out of them, while the rich fly about in private jets and heat their empty mansions.

“Labour’s approach is different. Our green industrial revolution will benefit working class people with cheaper energy bills, more rewarding well-paid jobs, and new industries to revive the parts of our country that have been held back for far too long.

“By focusing on low income households we will reduce fuel poverty and increase support for renewable energy. Social justice and climate justice as one. Environmental destruction and inequality not only can, but must be tackled at the same time.”

Labour for a Green New Deal, a recently set-up campaign group on the left of the party, welcomed the policy announcement. The ‘green industrial revolution’ planned by Labour “doesn’t need to happen in a way which makes life more difficult for people”, co-founder Chris Saltmarsh commented.

Labour will also reveal on Thursday that it would bring the national grid into public ownership in a bid to tackle climate change while making heat and electricity a “human right”.

Rebecca Long-Bailey is expected to explain that the move will allow profits from the grid to fund further green infrastructure rather than be “pocketed” by shareholders of network companies.

The frontbencher said: “It’s an insult and an injustice to our people and our planet for companies operating the grid to rip customers off, line the pockets of the rich and not invest properly in renewable energy.

“Only by taking the grid into public ownership can we decarbonise the economy at the pace needed to secure the planet for our children and grandchildren while ending the rip off, creating good jobs in local communities and making heating and electricity a human right.”

The solar panel and publicly-owned national grid policies will add to other Labour plans focussed on the environment, including the development of offshore wind, the introduction of a new Clean Air Act and a tree-planting programme.

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