Solar appeal decision delayed

Workmen bin a solar panel outside the Royal Courts of Justice

Photo: Friends of the Earth

The uncertainty over the future of the UK's solar feed-in tariff (FIT) scheme continues, after three court of appeal judges failed to decide if the government's proposed changes were unlawful.

The judges failed to reach a verdict on whether they should hear an appeal by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) against a High Court ruling, ending hopes that a decision could be reached today.

They stated that they would decide as soon as possible to give the industry certainty on the future of the scheme. But they said they wouldn't reach a decision before the end of next week.

The delay received a furious response from solar firms who are desperate for clarity on when cuts to feed-in tariffs will start.

The Secretary of State's defence is that he has the power to do whatever he likes. That means no FITs for any technology would be safe at any time. If DECC wins the ruling would devastate the solar industry because nobody would know if they would get their money back.

If the appeal judges grant DECC a hearing but they then lose at the hearing, they might try to appeal to the Supreme Court causing a further delay.

Friends of the Earth, which brought the case with two solar firms, wants DECC to ditch its appeal and legislate so it can cut feed-in tariffs legally from the end of February.

The FIT scheme has been a huge success with:

  • More than 100,000 solar panel projects installed since April 2010
  • Ten-fold increase in solar jobs in just 18 months.