Government loses FITs appeal

25th January 2012


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  • Renewable ,
  • Construction ,
  • Energy

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IEMA

DECC will not be able to halve the feed-in tariff (FIT) for solar installations fitted last year, the Court of Appeal has decided.

In a unanimous decision, the judges upheld the High Court ruling in December, that to impose the lower tariffs proposed in a DECC consultation to arrays fitted ahead of that consultation’s closure was not legal.

Following energy secretary Chris Huhne’s announcement last week of a contingency plan should the court rule against the government, the decision means the new subsidy levels will be imposed to panels installed from 3 March instead.

The court’s decision was welcomed by Friends of the Earth, one of the organisations that behind the judicial review of the case, as a landmark ruling that should prevent MPs from attempting to rush through similar changes in the future.

The group then called on the government to do more to protect the future of FITs by using the scheme’s tax revenues to shore up its finances and not adopt the proposal to link the tariff to the energy performance of the building.

Friends of the Earth’s executive director Andy Atkins said: “Ministers must abandon plans to tighten the screw on which homes qualify for solar payments – and use the massive tax revenues generated by solar to protect the industry.”

However, Huhne reacted to the Court of Appeal ruling by announcing that DECC intends to continue its legal challenge and is now seeking permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.

John Cridland, CBI director-general, warned against such action.

“The judgement should be used to draw a line under this saga,” he said. “We must bring certainty back to this high growth sector. Looking to the future, the government should guarantee the rate applicants will receive earlier in the process, for all the technologies covered by the feed-in-tariff, to give buyers the confidence to proceed.”

Meanwhile, representatives from the solar sector say the Court of Appeal’s decision will result in surge of installations ahead of the new 3 March deadline.

David Hunt, director of renewable energy company Eco Environments, said: “The phones have already started ringing with homeowners keen to cash in on this mini gold rush. Given that the cost of solar PV installations has dropped dramatically since December 12, consumers can now achieve breathtaking returns on investment.”

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