The Government is to set to make a second appeal against a High Court ruling which said that its decision to lower solar feed-in tariff payments was illegal.
The Government lost its first attempt yesterday after the Court of Appeal rejected energy secretary Chris Huhne’s claim that he had the power to go ahead with the scheme.
In a statement after the appeal was rejected Huhne said that the Government disagrees with the decision and is now seeking permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.
He says: “We have already put before Parliament changes to the regulations that will bring a 21p rate into effect from April for solar PV installations from 3 March to help reduce the pressure on the budget and provide as much certainty as we can for consumers and industry.
“We want to maximise the number of installations that are possible within the available budget rather than use available money to pay a higher tariff to half the number of installations. Solar PV can have strong and vibrant future in UK and we want a lasting FITs scheme to support that future and jobs in the industry.”
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.
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.