United Kingdom

Government appeal rejected, FiTs set to return to 43.3p

Yesterday, the UK Court of Appeal refused the Government’s appeal against the High Court ruling that premature cuts to feed-in tariff (FiTs) cuts for solar PV were illegal. In a unanimous decision the three judges confirmed that the Government’s attempt to cut solar FiTs from 12 December was unlawful. The ruling bascically sets a new date of 3 March for the start of the 21p tariff, with the previous higher rate of 43.3p per kWh remaining in effect until then.
Government appeal rejected, FiTs set to return to 43.3p

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. The Government’s appeal against the High Court decision was heard on 13 January and rejected today.

This judgement effectively puts in place a new date of 3 March for the start of the 21p tariff rate for Solar PV installations, meaning customers who install PV systems prior to this date are eligible to receive the previous higher rate of 43.3p per kWh – including those who installed after the original deadline of 12th December last year. Those who install a PV system after 3 March will be eligible to receive the higher rate until 1 April when it will be reduced to 21p per kWh. The ruling was a victory for the solar industry, which has been outraged by the Government’s proposals to apply changes to the scheme retrospectively. Lord Justice Moses stated that to do so “would be to take away an existing entitlement without statutory authority”.

"A historic judgement has been made today, one that should be welcomed by the entire renewable energy industry. 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. Today we have reminded Government that it will be held to account when it acts illegally and tries to 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 since October," commented Jeremy Leggett, Chairman, Solarcentury.

Tony O’Connor, Managing Director of BritishEco, said that “This ruling proves that the Government cannot make retrospective changes to schemes – whether that be in the solar industry or any other. The Government must now work with us to create a stable future for solar PV in the UK and realise that solar is part of our future”.

During the period approaching the previous change in the tariff, a record number of solar PV installations were carried out in the UK, leading the UK’s solar capacity to top half a gigawatt. It is thought that in the run up to 3 March the industry will see a similar rush for PV installations.

The solar industry is now calling on the Government to draw a line under the affair. “We all need some clarity and to be able to communicate with our customers with absolute certainty. The Government’s defeat today should signal the end of this fiasco and allow us all to get back to business,” Tony O’Connor commented, “The Government must now move on and deliver a tariff which is fair and supports the industry”.

However, Chris Huhne announced via the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC)that they are “seeking permission to appeal to the Supreme Court”. Whilst the Court yesterday denied them this further appeal, the Government are entitled to request this permission from the Supreme Court and subsequently further extend the period of uncertainty for the industry and consumers.

“A total of four judges have now ruled against the Government, which suggests to us that the likelihood of any further judges supporting the Government’s argument is negligible. It is therefore our opinion at BritishEco that the 43.3p rate will be in place until 3 March,” O’Connor stated.

Meanwhile, Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales West, Pter Black, said on his website that the Energy Secretary, Chris Huhne should accept defeat and move on.

Black said that despite the ruling, Mr Huhne remains defiant and has confirmed that he will seek to appeal to the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land. “Most people accept that the current tariff is too high and even those benefiting from the scheme were planning for it to be cut back in April. However, the Government has jumped in with both feet, pre-empted their own consultation and slashed the amount they subsidise small scale renewable generation by more than anticipated, before the deadline for comments,” he said. “It is common sense that due process has not been followed and that the Government is in the wrong. That is why the courts keep ruling against them. Surely the right decision now is to accept that verdict and go back to the drawing board.”

“Chris Huhne needs to move on. I do not believe that he can justify spending yet more public money on lawyers to pursue this issue,” he concluded.

For additional information:


Baterías con premio en la gran feria europea del almacenamiento de energía
El jurado de la feria ees (la gran feria europea de las baterías y los sistemas acumuladores de energía) ya ha seleccionado los productos y soluciones innovadoras que aspiran, como finalistas, al gran premio ees 2021. Independientemente de cuál o cuáles sean las candidaturas ganadoras, la sola inclusión en este exquisito grupo VIP constituye todo un éxito para las empresas. A continuación, los diez finalistas 2021 de los ees Award (ees es una de las cuatro ferias que integran el gran evento anual europeo del sector de la energía, The smarter E).