The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has asked the Supreme Court for permission to appeal against the Court of Appeal’s decision on solar tariffs.
Last month the Court of Appeal rejected the government’s request to appeal December’s ruling that reducing payments, before the consultation on the future of feed-in tariffs had closed, was illegal.
Environmental campaigning charity Friends of the Earth, along with two solar companies, brought the original case to court last year. Responding to news of the latest appeal, Andy Atkins, FoE's executive director, warned: “A successful appeal will allow ministers to slash renewable energy at any time - even for solar panels and wind turbines that have been operating for years.”
He added: “This misguided appeal will only add to the uncertainty hovering over the renewable clean-energy industry and the thousands of people it employs.”
In a statement the DECC said: “We want to see the available funding spread as far and wide as possible, making feed-in tariffs a scheme for the many, not a scheme for the few, supporting sustainable jobs in solar and in a whole range of small-scale renewables.”
New tariff plans revealed
The legal action taking place only concerns solar installations completed between 12 December 2011 and 3 March 2012, and earlier this month the Department announced its plans to reform feed-in tariffs (FiTs) following the publication of its consultation.
It claims that the cost of installing solar panels has fallen by 45 per cent since 2009 and that the resulting surge in installation has placed the FiT budget under pressure.
Climate change minister Greg Barker said: “Our new plans will see almost two and a half times more installations than originally projected by 2015, which is good news for the sustainable growth of the industry.
“We are proposing a more predictable and transparent scheme as the costs of technologies fall, ensuring a long-term, predictable rate of return that will closely track changes in prices and deployment.”
Under this scheme households installing solar panels after 3 March 2012 will be eligible for a tariff of 21p/kWh from 1 April.
A multi-installation rate of 80 per cent of the standard tariff will be introduced for new panels on buildings that already have 25 or more panels, reflecting the reduced cost of these installations. The DECC is now considering whether social housing and community projects should be exempt from this rate.
Responding to the announcement Atkins said the plans “are a significant improvement”, but that the “distinctly unclear solar road map leaves a dark cloud hanging over thousands of jobs”.