Judicial review on solar subsidy cut dismissed by High Court
A judicial review launched earlier this year by four solar companies in response to DECC's decision to end subsidies for large solar farms was rejected this morning by the High Court.
Early this summer, DECC announced plans to end the Renewable Obligation scheme – which is the main support mechanism for renewable electricity projects in the UK – for solar farms larger than 5MW from April 1 2015, two years ahead of schedule.
TGC Renewables, Solarcentury, Orta Solar Farms and Lark Energy claimed that the sudden withdrawal of support for solar through the Renewables Obligation (RO) scheme was ‘unlawful’ and launched the legal challenge, arguing that the move would have a retrospective impact on solar projects under development or in planning stages.
Today, the judge agreed that there would be a retrospective effect on the sector, but that it was fair for DECC to set a qualification deadline identical to the very first day of the consultation period.
Commenting on today’s judgement, a spokesman for Lark Energy, Solarcentury, TGC, and Orta said:
“The decision to launch the JR was taken immediately following the 13 May announcement, which as it originally stood closed ROCs for solar in an unlawful way.
“We are pleased that as a result of our court action, DECC moved significantly during the consultation period and the proposed grace period criteria set out in the May consultation were relaxed in the consultation response on the 2nd October.
“In court the judge agreed that DECC’s action had a retrospective impact, but ruled that it was fair for DECC to set a qualification deadline identical to the very first day of the consultation period, causing wasted capex for some developers.
“This ruling may have serious implications for the wider energy industry. We are considering whether to seek leave to appeal and will make a further statement in due course.”
Solar Trade Association chief executive Paul Barwell said:
“We are of course disappointed that four leading British solar companies have lost in the High Court. The court’s decision in favour of DECC raises important issues of principle which will rightly be of concern to the entire renewables industry, not just solar.
“The Solar Trade Association has not been involved with this case and will not provide any further comment pending any decision by the companies to appeal.”
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