Sainsbury's solar panels

Government cuts to green energy programmes have been slammed by supermarkets and suppliers, who have urged David Cameron to think again.

Companies including M&S, Tesco, Nestlé and Unilever joined other businesses to send an open letter to the PM last week. In it they warn recent moves to scale back support for solar power, wind energy and other low-carbon technologies could prejudice the growth of sectors that could be worth billions to the UK over the next decade.

The government has announced a raft of cutbacks to support for renewable energy programmes, including scrapping subsidies for onshore wind farms, proposing to slash feed-in tariffs for domestic solar panels by nearly 90% and scrapping the zero carbon homes target

Nestlé UK & Ireland chairman and chief executive Dame Fiona Kendrick said it was committed to 100% renewable electricity use in all its operations but needed a “positive policy environment”. “Solar power alone could be worth up to $10 trillion over the next decade globally and should soon be able to go subsidy free in the UK,” says the letter.

“However, in order to thrive, the industry requires stable policies with a gradual phase out of support to enable renewable technologies to smoothly transition towards grid-parity. Regular changes to the policy environment undermine confidence in investment in infrastructure of all kinds and impact on the UK’s ability to continue competing in the rapidly growing global low carbon sector.”

With latest government figures showing renewable energy already accounts for nearly a quarter of the UK’s electricity, the government should realise its critical role for the supply chain, the letter added. “We would like to see your government commit and put forward policies to support the growth of the UK renewables sector through the 2020s, consistent with the critical role of the power sector.”