Government loses appeal to overturn High Court solar ruling

The Government has lost its appeal against a High Court ruling that its decision to lower solar feed-in tariff payments was illegal.

The Press Association is reporting that the Court of Appeal rejected energy secretary Chris Huhne’s claim that he had the power to go ahead with the scheme.

Earlier this month, Energy Minister Greg Barker confirmed via twitter that the Government was to appeal against the ruling.

In November, the Government announced it was bringing forward the date for its reduction in feed-in tariffs to December 12, 2011, rather than in April 2012 as previously planned and 11 days before the consultation ended on December 23. Friends of the Earth argued this change with little notice was unlawful.

Under the proposals, solar panels installed post December 12, 2011 receive reduced FIT payments. For new residential units up to the 4kW band the rate was reduced from 43.3p per kWh to 21.0p per kWh.  The proposals lead to some EIS and VCTs withdrawing offerings or considering changes to product mandates.

The decision means the current tariff of just over 43p is likely to remain in place until March 3, according to the BBC.

Friends of the Earth, which brought the challenge alongside two solar firms, has called on the Government to introduce a plan to reduce solar power payments in line with falling installation costs, rather than prolonging industry uncertainty and jeopardising jobs by pursuing an expensive legal appeal.