Solar industry issues warning as government lodges second appeal
Supreme Court appeal puts FIT rates at risk
The government will be able retrospectively change tariffs for already installed solar schemes if it wins a legal battle over the cutting of solar subsidies, campaigners have warned.
On Tuesday the government confirmed it had registered an appeal at the Supreme Court against a High Court ruling that it acted unlawfully in slashing the feed-in tariff from 43.3p/kWh to 21p/kWh in December.
The move follows the failure of its first appeal on 25 January.
At present, once a solar photovoltaic panel is installed and registered with regulator Ofgem, it has a guaranteed FIT rate for 25 years.
However, solar firm Solar Century and environmental group Friends of the Earth - which, together with HomeSun launched the original High Court challenge - have claimed that if the government wins its second appeal, a legal precedent would be set for it to act retrospectively. This, they argue, would undermine the 25-year guarantee and set a precedent for the government to change the FIT whenever it wanted.
Jeremy Leggett, chair of Solar Century, said: ‘If the appeal is successful it will allow government to change feed-in tariffs whenever it chooses, even for projects that are already installed and supposedly guaranteed the feed-in tariff. At a stroke, this would undermine investment in all UK renewables, not just PV, and show investors that the UK government simply cannot be trusted.’
Andy Atkins, executive director at Friends of the Earth, added: ‘This misguided appeal will only add to the uncertainty hovering over the renewable clean energy industry.’
A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesperson said: ‘We respectfully disagree with the Court of Appeal’s decision on FITs and we have lodged an application with the Supreme Court seeking that court’s permission to appeal. We are now awaiting a decision of the Supreme Court on permission.’
Inside Housing’s Green Light campaign calls for equal access to green subsidies for social landlords.