Legal challenge over FiT cuts goes to court

The High Court is set to hear legal challenges by Friends of the Earth, Homesun and Solarcentury over the Government’s plans to cut the feed-in tariff for solar PV today.

The legal challenges focus on Government’s decision to run a consultation which saw the December 12 cut-off point enforced 11 days before the consultation ends. The group contest that the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s premature decision has caused the unnecessary abandonment of countless PV projects.

The hearing was permitted after Mr Justice Mitting said the Government’s proposals had given rise to "economic risk" for those operating in the solar industry.

Friends of the Earth and those behind the Cut Don’t Kill campaign argue that the premature deadline could cost the industry up to 29,000 jobs and result in the loss of up to £230 million a year in tax income to the Treasury, according to a report released last month.

Friends of the Earth, Homesun and Solarcentury 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 that deal with the environment.

Friends of the Earth’s Executive Director Andy Atkins said:

“The Government's rushed plans to slash solar subsidies have pulled the plug on countless clean energy schemes and threatened thousands of jobs - we believe this is not just unfair, it’s unlawful.

“We agree falling installation costs mean solar payments should fall, but the speed and scale of these proposals will have a devastating impact on a thriving industry.

“The Government must think again and take steps to safeguard UK solar jobs and help cash-strapped families and businesses to free themselves from expensive fossil fuels.”

The hearing will take place at the Royal Courts of Justice, London, all day on December 20 and over a half-day session on December 21.

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.