The lengthy saga surrounding the solar Feed-in tariff reduction will see its conclusion on Friday, when the High Court hear the government’s challenge to the cuts being called “unlawful”.
There has been months of criticism and anger amongst environmental groups and solar companies regarding the sudden cuts. And any further appeals from government will also be heard on the same day.
Campaigners have been notably disappointed by the government’s continued appeal and Friends of the Earth Policy and Campaigns Director said: “Ministers’ insistence on continuing with the appeal process will simply add to the cloud of uncertainty hanging over the solar industry – and the thousands of jobs at stake.
“Instead of wasting taxpayers’ money fighting this in the courts, Ministers should take steps to safeguard thousands of solar jobs and enable more homes, businesses and communities to plug in to clean energy.”
The solar Feed-in tariff rate was expected to be reduced on April 1, from 43.3p/kWh to 21 p. But because the scheme was running out of budget, a quick amendment from the DECC brought forward the cut-off point for solar photovoltaics to December 12.
And Solarcentury Chairman, Jeremy Leggett, says the government shouldn’t prolong the uncertainty they’ve caused with the illegal proposals. The High Court has already mentioned any appeal is very unlikely to be successful and Mr Leggett says the government completely ignored parliamentary procedure for the proposal.
He said: “The Secretary of State can’t set a cut-off date which takes effect before Parliament has finished considering his proposal. That’s an illegal proposal. And DECC can’t keep trying to claim the 12 December cut-off date is ‘just a proposal.”
But David Hunt, director of renewable energy company Eco Environments, has urged caution ahead of the decision. He says the government has made it aware the budget has been exceeded and the worry is that from April 1, the new rate could now be lower than 21p.
He said: “While we would have obviously preferred the new rate to be higher than 21p, anything less would not just damage the industry – it would kill it forever.”
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