Supreme Court rejects Government's solar appeal

Published by: Solarcentury
Date: 23/03/2012

This provides a unanimous decision from the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court that the Government should not have prematurely cut solar Feed-in tariffs before the end of a consultation period, placing thousands of green jobs at risk; and clarifies the Government can not change the Feed-in tariff retrospectively. Jobs have already been lost in the solar industry, a previously growing job market of 36,000 in 2011, as a result of the Government’s illegal intervention.

The original legal challenge was made by Solarcentury, Friends of the Earth and HomeSun, and the High Court ruled on 21 December that a Government proposal to cut payments for any solar scheme completed after 12 December 2011 – 11 days before an official consultation into the proposal had even closed – was unlawful.

Jeremy Leggett, Chairman, Solarcentury said: “The Supreme Court has today confirmed that the Government simply has no grounds to appeal the decision that its handling of solar Feed-in tariffs was illegal. This final step in the legal process has wasted much needed time and money and now we, the renewables industry, simply want to get on with creating our clean energy future. Renewables can only play the pivotal role necessary to deliver a new green economy if we have a stable market and investor confidence backed by lawful, predictable and carefully considered policy.  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. Our hope now is that we can work together again to restore the thriving jobs-rich solar sector that has been so badly undermined by Government actions.”

Earlier this year,the Court of Appeal refused the Government’s appeal against the High Court ruling that premature cuts to FITs for solar PV were illegal. In a unanimous decision the three judges confirmed that the Government’s attempt to cut solar Feed-in tariffs from 12 December was unlawful. The UK’s solar capacity hit 1GW earlier this year, with the Government’s target set at 20GW by 2020. Before the Feed-in tariff scheme there was just 26MW of solar in the UK. By comparison, Germany has 25GW of solar and installed 7.5GW alone in 2011 driven by the country’s long-running feed-in tariff. 

Notes to editors:

1. Solarcentury was advised by Prospect Law

There were three separate claims Solarcentury, Friends of the Earth and Homesun. The three claims were managed together. On the Solarcentury claim there were three Interested Parties who provided additional evidence about the immediate and widespread impact of DECC’s illegal proposal: 
Encraft Limited – Matthew Rhodes;
 Ardenham Energy Limited – James Hoare; Second Nature Partnership – Charles Perry

2. Photographs of Friends of the Earth’s action outside the High Court are available, for free at:

3. Current Feed-in tariff rates can be viewed here

4.More than 17,000 people have asked the Government to keep supporting clean British energy – join them now at

5. On Monday 31 October 2011 the Government launched a public consultation that would see the amount of solar panels installed each year fall by between 70 and 95 per cent:

6. The Government’s proposals have already had a devastating impact. Countless planned clean energy schemes have been abandoned and thousands of jobs are under threat. Last month a report commissioned by Friends of the Earth and Cut Don’t Kill – an alliance of solar firms and consumer and environmental organisations – revealed the premature cuts could threaten 29,000 jobs and lose the Treasury up to £230 million a year in tax income. Construction firm Carillion warned 4,500 workers their jobs are at risk because of the Government’s proposals.

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

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

9. 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.

10. Over 12,500 people have viewed the ‘Cut, don’t kill’ campaign video ‘The Big Solar Backtrack’

11. 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.

12. 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.

13. 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



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


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