Supreme Court Rejects Government's Solar Appeal

The Supreme Court has thrown out the Government's attempt to appeal the ruling that its actions on solar Feed-in tariffs (FITs) were illegal.

This provides a unanimous decision from the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court that the Government should not have prematurely cut solar Feed-in tariffs before the end of a consultation period, placing thousands of green jobs at risk; and clarifies the Government can not change the Feed-in tariff retrospectively. Jobs have already been lost in the solar industry, a previously growing job market of 36,000 in 2011, as a result of the Government's illegal intervention.

This means any solar installation completed before March 3rd this year qualifies for the higher Feed-in tariff rate. The law, as stated by the Court of Appeal, is that the 12th December could not be used as the Feed-in tariff cut off date, a Feed-in tariff date change can only be set by regulations laid before Parliament and can only take effect after the period of 40 days specified.

The original legal challenge was made by Solarcentury, Friends of the Earth and HomeSun, and the High Court ruled on 21 December that a Government proposal to cut payments for any solar scheme completed after 12 December 2011 – 11 days before an official consultation into the proposal had even closed – was unlawful.

Jeremy Leggett, Chairman, Solarcentury said: "The Supreme Court has today confirmed that the Government simply has no grounds to appeal the decision that its handling of solar Feed-in tariffs was illegal. This final step in the legal process has wasted much needed time and money and now we, the renewables industry, simply want to get on with creating our clean energy future. Renewables can only play the pivotal role necessary to deliver a new green economy if we have a stable market and investor confidence backed by lawful, predictable and carefully considered policy.  I hope the Government is now clear that it will be held to account if it tries to act illegally and push through unlawful policy changes. We would much prefer not to have taken this path but Ministers gave us no choice. Our hope now is that we can work together again to restore the thriving jobs-rich solar sector that has been so badly undermined by Government actions."

Earlier this year, the Court of Appeal refused the Government’s appeal against the High Court ruling that premature cuts to FITs for solar PV were illegal. In a unanimous decision the three judges confirmed that the Government’s attempt to cut solar Feed-in tariffs from 12 December was unlawful.

The UK's solar capacity hit 1GW earlier this year, with the Government's target set at 20GW by 2020. Before the Feed-in tariff scheme there was just 26MW of solar in the UK. By comparison, Germany has 25GW of solar and installed 7.5GW alone in 2011 driven by the country's long-running feed-in tariff.

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