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Government takes appeal to Supreme Court after solar feed-in tariff defeat

The Government is to make a second appeal against a High Court ruling which found that its decision to lower solar feed-in tariff payments was illegal.

It lost its first attempt last week at the Court of Appeal. Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne said the Government disagrees with the Court of Appeal’s decision and is seeking permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.

In November, the Government announced it was bringing forward the date for its reduction in feed-in tariffs to December 12, 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 after December 12 last year would have received reduced Fit payments. For new residential units up to the 4kw band, the rate was cut from 43.3p per kw to 21p per kw.

The plans led 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, wants a plan to reduce solar power payments in line with falling installation costs rather than prolonging uncertainty and jeopardising jobs by pursuing an expensive legal appeal.

In a statement following the Court of Appeal’s decision last week Huhne said: “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 March 3 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.”

Hargreaves Lansdown investment manager Ben Yearsley says: “This just leaves things uncertain for VCT/EIS providers who continue to soldier on in this sector.”

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