The Government has been refused permission to appeal against a ruling that a judicial review should be held into cuts to solar subsidies.

The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) was in London’s Court of Appeal today (January 25).

In a unanimous decision three judges confirmed the Government’s attempt to cut the Feed-In Tariffs (FITs) from December 12 were illegal.

The news has been seen by the two solar companies, HomeSun and Solarcentury, and Friends of the Earth (FoE), who bought the action as a vindication of their fight, which started when cuts were first announced last October.

Solarcentury chairman, Jeremy Leggett, said: “A historic judgement has been made today, one that should be welcomed by the entire renewable energy industry.

“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.

“Today we have reminded Government that it will be held to account when it acts illegally and tries to push through unlawful policy changes.”

A spokesman for HomeSun said: “We won!

“Now four judges have said the Government’s actions, proposing a cut to FITs solar subsidy on December 12 was illegal.

“It is good to be vindicated and it is important to stand up for the industry and those thousands of people who applied in good faith for solar and in the end couldn’t have it.

“Hopefully we can now get back to offering free solar.”

FoE’s executive director, Andy Atkins, said: “This landmark judgement confirms that devastating Government plans to rush through cuts to solar payments are illegal – and will prevent ministers from causing industry chaos with similar cuts in future.

“Ministers must abandon plans to tighten the screw on which homes qualify for solar payments – and use the massive tax revenues generated by solar to protect the industry.

“Helping more people to plug into clean British energy will help protect cash-strapped households from soaring fuel bills.”

Energy and climate change secretary, Chris Huhne, said: “The Court of Appeal has upheld the High Court ruling on FITs albeit on different grounds.

“We disagree and are seeking permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.

“We have already put before Parliament changes to the regulations that will bring a 21p rate into effect from April for solar PV installations from March 3 to help reduce the pressure on the budget and provide as much certainty as we can for consumers and industry.

“We want to maximise the number of installations that are possible within the available budget rather than use available money to pay a higher tariff to half the number of installations.

“Solar PV can have strong and vibrant future in UK and we want a lasting FITs scheme to support that future and jobs in the industry.”

Luke Walsh

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