Developers in Northern Ireland have warned that a decision to make the use of renewable energy compulsory in all new builds could undermine development in the province.
The backlash follows Northern Ireland Secretary of State Peter Hain's announcement that the government would make the use of micro-generation or renewable technologies mandatory in all new homes, company and public buildings from 2008.
The move was seen as ambitious when announced, but local developers have since condemned it, as they believe it will make costs soar.
Connor Mulligan of developer the Lagan Group said he believes the decision has not been thought through carefully enough, and is unsure whether it is wise choosing arguably one of the least wealthy areas of the UK to lead it.
'As far as I can tell Northern Ireland is the only place in the world where micro-regeneration will be compulsory, he said. 'It feels as though Northern Ireland's being used as a guinea pig, but I'm not sure this is the best place to choose.
'I think England would probably be better suited to it, but we'll just have to accommodate it. By the sounds of things the Northern Ireland Office doesn't quite know all the details, so we won't know how big an increase it will mean on our costs, and the costs for our customers.
'But one thing is for certain, it will undoubtedly impact us as a company.'
On announcing the changes Hain stated that he is putting all his powers behind the scheme, and keeping Northern Ireland ahead of the rest of the UK.
He said: 'I am fully committed to the use of renewable energy and I know how effective it can be. In my home in Wales, I have installed PV panels on my roof and this has resulted in my energy bill being halved.' by Richard Vaughan