Government loses solar appeal

Two workmen bin a solar panel outside the Royal Courts of Justice

Photo: Friends of the Earth

Three Court of Appeal judges this morning upheld the decision of the High Court that the government had acted unlawfully in trying to cut the feed-in tariff (FIT) incentive scheme for solar installations completed after 12 December 2011. They dismissed the government's defence saying that it was illegal for the government to cut before the consultation on the proposed changes closed on 23 December.

Friends of the Earth and the two solar industry firms which brought the action welcomed the ruling. They have consistently argued that ministers shouldn't impose "retrospective" changes to the feed-in tariff incentive scheme.

But the government has confirmed it is appealing to the Supreme Court against this second court ruling.

Last week the government said it will cut solar feed-in tariffs from 3 March if the appeal is lost.

But he insisted the government was right to seek a further appeal as it attempts to protect the budget for the feed-in tariff scheme, which is expected to come under further pressure if a rush of new installations occurs over the next month.

Solar firms responded angrily to the news of the appeal. They accused the government of trying to reduce demand for solar panels. The CBI is also critical urging ministers to "draw a line under" the saga.

The Appeal Court's decision suggests that FIT rates will stay at 43p/kWh until the 3 March. But if the government wins in the Supreme Court the rate would be cut to 21p/kWh for all installations completed between 12 December and 3 March.

Friends of the Earth think the Appeal Court decision is brilliant news. The Government has been told twice that it can't ignore the law and slash subsidies without consulting properly.

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Your actions last week helped force the Government to remove the immediate threat of a collapse of the solar industry.

Make sure David Cameron accepts the court ruling and cleans up the mess his Government has made of the solar industry - instead of appealing again.

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