UPDATED: Government in court for FITs appeal
A court victory allowing a judicial review into cuts to solar subsidies will be appealed by the Government today (January 4).
The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is set to appeal last month’s ruling, which concluded the Government’s plans to rush through cuts to Feed-In Tariff (FIT) payments were ‘legally flawed’.
At the time climate change minister, Greg Barker, said: “We disagree with the court’s decision, we will be seeking an appeal and hope to secure a hearing as soon as possible.
On his twitter account today the minister added: “DECC formally applied to Court of Appeal today.
“Timing up to courts but hope to resolve well before the end of the month.”
The continuing battle also worries many in the solar industry with some now saying the legal fight, led by Friends of the Earth and two solar companies HomeSun and Solarcentury, should be halted and accepted.
A DECC spokewoman said: “We have lodged grounds of appeal with the Court of Appeal.
“We hope permission will be granted for an appeal and that we can secure a hearing as soon as possible so that we can provide clarity for consumers and industry on the way forward following the consultation.
“The High Court’s decision was based on the view the proposed approach to implementing new tariffs for solar PV is inconsistent with the FIT scheme’s statutory purpose of encouraging small-scale low-carbon electricity generation. We disagree with this for a number of reasons.
“The overriding aim of the proposed reduction in tariffs for solar PV (as set out in the recent consultation) is to ensure that over the long term as many people as possible are encouraged to install small scale low-carbon generation (including other technologies as well as solar PV) and benefit from the funding available for the FIT scheme.
“Without an urgent reduction in the current tariffs, which give a very generous return, the budget for the scheme would be severely depleted and there would be very little available for future solar PV generators, or for other technologies.
“We have also made the point that the judicial review was premature as no decision has yet been taken, and a decision will only be taken after a full analysis of the responses to the consultation.”
Solar panel installers Freesource Energy’s managing director, Alex Lockton, claimed the industry should ‘reluctantly’ accept changes to the tariff rather than fighting a battle which only adds to the ‘uncertainty and instability’ which has dogged the sector in recent months.
He said: “After the recent uncertainty and chaos, what we really need now is a period of stability to rebuild public and investor confidence in the industry.
“We’ve been working frantically for the past two months to prepare for the 50% and the last thing we need is another gold rush to get installations completed before April, followed by potentially deeper cuts in the tariff which would be hugely damaging, or even terminal, for the industry.
“The main priority for the solar industry must be to get a commitment from the Government to support the sector until we can achieve ‘grid parity’ – when prices for solar electricity match those from conventional energy sources – even if it means reviewing the cap later on.”
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