A High Court ruling today (December 21) gave the green light to proceed with a judicial review brought by Friends of the Earth and two solar companies HomeSun and Solarcentury.

However, the Department for Climate Change (DECC) have already lodged an appeal against the decision.

The decision is great news for the beleaguered solar industry which was outraged at the way in which the cuts were brought from December 12 before the close of the consultation, which has now been ruled as potentially illegal.

The Judge said the consultation was ‘legally flawed’ and can be subjected to a judicial review, he also the Government had breached rules on consultation exercises when it announced planned cuts to the Feed-In Tariff (FIT) before the end of the consultation period.

Friends of the Earth’s executive director, Andy Atkins, said: “These botched and illegal plans have cast a huge shadow over the solar industry, jeopardising thousands of jobs.

“We hope this ruling will prevent Ministers rushing through damaging changes to clean energy subsidies – giving solar firms a much-needed confidence boost.

“Ministers must now come up with a sensible plan that protects the UK’s solar industry and allows cash-strapped homes and businesses to free themselves from expensive fossil fuels by plugging into clean energy.”

“Solar payments should fall in line with falling installation costs but the speed of the Government’s proposals threatened to devastate the entire industry.”

Following the ruling Solarcentury called on the Government to stop the current consultation; re-do it properly and commit to setting any eligibility date for projects fairly, after the consultation process and according to the correct procedures.

Solarcentury chairman Jeremy Leggett, said: “Solarcentury is pleased with the decision, obviously.

“The court has stopped Government abusing its power but it doesn’t make up for the fact that DECC has created chaos for the renewable energy industry as a whole, and not just solar.

“Solarcentury was very reluctant to take this legal challenge but DECC gave us no choice.

“All of this could have been avoided if DECC had done a proper consultation last summer, as they promised, and engaged constructively with the solar industry.

“I do hope that DECC will now engage properly with the industry, so that together we can build a viable solar industry in the UK, as they have in Germany.”

Climate change minister, Greg Barker, responded to the High Court ruling on the proposed changes to solar FITs said: “We disagree with the Court’s decision. We will be seeking an appeal and hope to secure a hearing as soon as possible.

“Regardless of today’s outcome, the current high tariffs for solar PV are not sustainable and changes need to be made in order to protect the budget which is funded by consumers through their energy bills.”

Luke Walsh

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