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Victory for solar panel firms in FIT fight

26 March 2012

The  government emerged red-faced last week after the Supreme Court ruled that it could not appeal to overturn an earlier decision that its proposed cuts to the solar feed-in-tariff were illegal. Installations completed before 3 March will attract the higher 43p per KWh rate, reported Building.

The cut in rate was riled illegal because the overnment announced plans to slash the feed-in-tariff for installations made after 12 December 2011 in October last year. However, its consultation on the decision did not close until 23 December, which allowed Friends of the Earth and solar firms to successfully take it to court.

The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) subsequently applied to appeal the ruling at the Court of Appeal but that court denied it permission to appeal and upheld the High Court’s decision.

Now the Supreme Court has also refused to hear the case.The government has already passed secondary legislation to bring about the cut in the FIT from 43p per KWh to 21p per KWh from 3 March, which is not in dispute.

Andy Atkins, executive director of Friends of the Earth which brought the case along with a number of solar firms said:“This is the third court that’s ruled that botched Government solar plans are illegal - a landmark decision which will prevent ministers causing industry chaos with similar subsidy cuts in future,” reported Building.

Jeremy Leggett, chair of Solarcentury, one of the solar firms which brought the case, said: “I hope the government is now clear that it will be held to account if it tries to act illegally and push through unlawful policy changes. We would much prefer not to have taken this path but ministers gave us no choice.”

Paul Barwell, chief executive of the Solar Trade Association, said: “The extra money DECC will now have to commit leaves us with serious concerns about the remaining FIT budget, which remains constrained under the Levy Control Framework.”

Caroline Flint, shadow energy secretary, said the ruling showed the “chaos and incompetence at the heart of DECC”.

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