Solar companies fail in judicial review of policy

15th January 2015

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Business & Industry ,
  • Energy ,
  • Renewable


Robert Beck

Keith Davidson from LexisPSL on the failure of a judicial review application by solar companies challenging Decc's decision to close the Renewables Obligation (RO) in April 2015.

A judicial review application by solar companies challenging Decc’s decision to close the Renewables Obligation (RO) in April 2015 has failed. The High Court ruled in Solar Century Holdings Ltd and others v Secretary of state for energy and climate change [2014] EWHC 3677 that the government’s cuts to subsidies for large solar projects are legal.

In May 2014, the government issued a consultation paper on future subsidies to support the installation of solar photovoltaics (PV). It included plans to bring forward the closure date of the RO from 2017 to April 2015. Decc’s justification was the unexpectedly high levels of large-scale solar PV deployment, which risked breaching the cap imposed by the Treasury’s levy control framework (LCF).

Solar Century, Lark Energy, Orta Solar Farms and TGC Renewables brought a rolled-up judicial review application that challenged the policy change. Decc confirmed in October 2014 the early closure of the RO, though it extended the “grace period” from three to 12 months.

The claimants challenged the policy change on four grounds: closure of the scheme before 2017 was ultra vires; pre-legislation statements amounted to an “assurance” that should bind the government; previous policy statements gave rise to a “legitimate expectation” that cannot be altered; and the introduction of retrospective “grace periods” was unfair and unlawful. The judge rejected each ground and dismissed the claim.

The decision underlines that levy schemes subject to the financial limits imposed by the Treasury can change. The LCF, therefore, represents a systemic risk that all operators must always take into account.


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.

Transform articles

Fifth of UK food firms unprepared for deforestation regulation

One in five UK food businesses are not prepared for EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR) coming into force in December, a new survey has uncovered.

16th May 2024

Read more

Regulatory gaps between the EU and UK are beginning to appear, warns Neil Howe in this edition’s environmental legislation round-up

4th April 2024

Read more

Dr Julie Riggs issues a call to arms to tackle a modern-day human tragedy

15th March 2024

Read more

The UK’s new biodiversity net gain (BNG) requirements could create 15,000 hectares of woodlands, heath, grasslands, and wetlands and absorb 650,000 tonnes of carbon each year.

13th March 2024

Read more

Campaign group Wild Justice has accused the UK government of trying to relax pollution rules for housebuilders “through the backdoor”.

14th February 2024

Read more

Digital tracking, packaging data delays and new collections provide a waste focus for this edition’s environmental round-up by legislation expert Neil Howe

28th November 2023

Read more

Environmental crimes could result in prison sentences of up to 10 years and company fines of 5% of turnover under a proposed EU law agreed by the European parliament and council.

21st November 2023

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close