High Court to hear solar legal challenge application

Published by: Solarcentury
Date: 12/06/2011

On 31 October the Government announced its plans to impose lower feed-in tariff payments but surprised the industry by saying that the lower rates would apply to any installations which are not completed by 12 December.

Solarcentury says that this cut-off date, two weeks before the consultation ends, is unlawful, irrational and unreasonable and has already lead to unfinished or planned projects being abandoned. These include major projects for Housing Associations and Local Authorities which planned to complete by 31 March 2012, the original tariff change date, but which have no hope of completion by 12th December. The Housing Associations have lost hundreds of thousands of pounds themselves preparing for these schemes.

A recent report Commissioned by Friends of the Earth and Cut Don’t Kill – an alliance of solar firms and consumer and environmental organisations – revealed that the soar cuts could cost up to 29,000 jobs and cause the Treasury to lose up to £230 million a year in tax income.

The High Court will hear the three separate legal challenges to the Government’s feed-in tariffs, by Solarcentury, Home Sun and Friends of the Earth, together on the same day. All claimants want to stop any cuts to tariff levels being made until DECC has completed its consultation on the changes correctly. The group regards the 12th December cut-off date as a cynical move made without due regard to the inevitable and negative commercial consequences for thousands of new businesses, their staff and customers.

Jeremy Leggett, Chairman, Solarcentury said: “I expect the Court to look very carefully at this decision which Government has cynically disguised as a consultation. We were given six short weeks and now, when we want answers, they say “it was only a consultation” and it’s not urgent. Our customers who have spent hundreds of thousands of pounds preparing long term projects see it very differently.”

John Faulks, General Counsel for Solarcentury said, “To get a permission hearing on 15 December is actually good progress. That may sound ridiculous given the impact of the 12th December, but this is Judicial Review. It’s an involved court process. We’ve managed to get the standard timetables significantly reduced on this case. It doesn’t help that some people new to Judicial Review are panicking that it’s all over when really it hasn’t even started yet. We got knocked back on the written arguments at the initial application stage. That’s not unusual. The case starts for real on 15th December. Let’s focus on that permission hearing and not lose sight of the fact that we all need to make sure DECC hears plenty of response to the consultation itself. “



Notes to editors:

1. On Monday 31 October 2011 the Government launched a public consultation on plans to slash small-scale solar power subsidies by more than 50 per cent.

2. The Government’s decision to slash solar funding was described by the CBI as an ‘own goal’ on Thursday 10 November 2011.

3. Solar cuts will cost Treasury millions and destroy up to 29,000 jobs:

4. The ‘Cut, don’t kill campaign’ on has been joined by thousands in calling for a re think on the Governments Feed-in tariff decisions.

5. Over 11,000 people have viewed the ‘Cut, don’t kill’ campaign video ‘The Big Solar Backtrack’ in just one week

6. Solarcentury says the Government’s actions are unlawful because: the consultation pre-judges its own result and, by setting the 12 December date, DECC has failed to take account of the long lead time projects which will be made impossible by this 6 week deadline. It also breaches the legitimate expectation which solar companies and customers have that any changes to the tariff would be made in a fair way according to the correct procedures.

7. Solarcentury is calling on the Government to stop the current illegal consultation; re-do it properly and commit to setting any eligibility date for projects fairly, after the consultation process and according to the correct procedures

8. Solarcentury have many further arguments about how the Feed in Tariffs for solar PV should be funded and managed. These form part of its consultation response rather than part of the legal challenge.

Examples of solar energy projects that have either been scrapped or are in jeopardy are available from Solarcentury’s press office – please call 02078030148/07990 5833079 for more information.


Solar Aid

In 2006 we established the international development charity SolarAid whose goal is to eradicate kerosene lamps from Africa.


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