Government to take FITs battle to Supreme Court

Published:  26 January, 2012

LONDON: The government is to take its legal battle over its plans to slash the feed-in-tariff rate to the Supreme Court after losing its appeal.

The move came after the Court of Appeal yesterday declared that government plans to cut the feed-in tariff (FIT) for solar electricity from 12 December illegal, upholding the High Court's ruling made before Christmas.

The Court of Appeal's decision means the government will not be able to go ahead with plans to slash by half solar subsidies for installations completed after 12 December from 1 April.

The Court of Appeal was unanimous in its decision to refuse the government permission to appeal, meaning the government will have no automatic right to escalate its appeal to the Supreme Court.

However, the government later confirmed it would seek permission from the Supreme Court to appeal the ruling.

Energy secretary Chris Huhne said: "The Court of Appeal has upheld the High Court ruling on FITs albeit on different grounds. We disagree and are seeking permission to appeal to the Supreme Court."

"We want to maximise the number of installations that are possible within the available budget rather than use available money to pay a higher tariff to half the number of installations. Solar PV can have strong and vibrant future in UK and we want a lasting FITs scheme to support that future and jobs in the industry."

The ongoing legal battle has been a source of uncertainty for the industry with solar installers complaining it is difficult to sell their products without being able to offer clarity to customers on what FIT they will receive.

Last week, the government removed some of this uncertainty by tabling regulations in parliament that will see the FIT for installations after 3 March receive the lower rate.

Nathan Goode, head of energy, environment and sustainability at Grant Thornton said: "Whatever the theoretical rights and wrongs of the case we need to get to a position of stability as quickly as possible to provide the solar industry and investors with the certainty needed to allow them to move forward."

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