Friends of the Earth, Solarcentury and HomeSun will today hand in an application to the High Court to challenge Government plans to slash financial incentives by more than 50 percent. The legal challenge focuses on supporting solar installations which were completed after the December 12 deadline this year.

Government’s consultation into the feed-in tariff scheme for solar installations in the UK will end on December 23; however the cut-off point for those hoping to beat the reductions came on December 12. Friends of the Earth says that while it was always envisaged that feed-in tariff payments would be reduced over time, this premature decision is unlawful and has already led to abandoned projects and unfinished systems.

Friends of the Earth and those behind the Cut Don’t Kill campaign also argue that the premature deadline could cost up to 29,000 jobs and lose the Treasury up to £230 million a year in tax income, according to a report released last month. Solar installers in hard hats and overalls are expected to join Friends of the Earth before today's hearing to highlight the potential job loss by placing a solar panel in a large bin.

Friends of the Earth’s Executive Director Andy Atkins said: “The sudden cut in solar subsidies has led to the scrapping of countless clean energy schemes, preventing homes, businesses and communities around the country from freeing themselves from expensive fossil fuels and the Big Six energy companies.

“We believe Government’s plans to move the goalposts and prematurely pull the subsidy are not only unfair, they’re also illegal – and hope the High Court allows us to challenge them.

“Cuts in solar subsidies should reflect falling installation costs, but these proposals got too far and will pull the plug on tens of thousands of jobs, bankrupt businesses and cost the Treasury millions of pounds a year.

“Ministers must change direction and help put the solar industry at the forefront of building a cleaner, safer future.”

Today’s hearing is a re-application for a judicial review. The High Court rejected initial applications to challenge the Government last month. The hearing will begin at 10:30 and last approximately three hours. It will be heard in Court 3 at the Royal Courts of Justice.

Friends of the Earth will call on Government to maintain existing tariff payments to all qualifying solar schemes completed by April 1, 2011 and extend the consultation period to Friday February 17, 2012. The group will also ask the High Court to cap its potential legal costs for the case as international rules specify that costs should be limited in public interest cases on the environment.

The legal challenge to cuts in solar incentives is part of Friend of the Earth's Final Demand campaign, which calls for energy we can all afford and a public inquiry into the power and influence of the Big Six energy companies.