A last-ditch attempt by the Government to have a High Court ruling overturned over its plans to cut the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) for solar electricity will be presented for appeal to the highest court in the land today.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change
(DECC) confirmed it will be lodging its appeal bid to the Supreme Court
later today. Ministers have until Wednesday to request the appeal.
"We will be lodging the appeal bid today," a spokesperson for DECC told GreenWise. She confirmed the newly installed Energy Secretary Ed Davey had given his backing to the decision and a statement from DECC would be issued later today.
The controversial move marks the final attempt by the Government to try and overturn a High Court judge’s decision that its plans to halve the rate of the FiT for small-scale solar photovoltaic installations before a consultation on the matter had been completed last December was unlawful. Energy Ministers have already failed in their attempt to have the ruling overturned by the Court of Appeal.
DECC said it will not be publicising the grounds for its final appeal to the Supreme Court, but the case relates to its deciding to cut the FiT from 43 pence per kilowatt hour to 21 pence for solar PV systems four kilowatt in size or below from December 12 last year. The FiT is a subsidy to encourage homeowners and businesses to generate their own renewable energy and is for by consumers through their energy bills. Ministers gave solar companies just six weeks to prepare for the cuts and imposed them ahead of a consultation on the matter.
The outcome of the Supreme Court appeal bid will decide if the reduced tariff applies from December 12 last year or March 3 this year. But the move, which was set in motion by the former Energy Secretary Chris Huhne, has been widely criticised by opponents of the Government who say it prolongs the uncertainty that has been hanging over the beleaguered solar industry and is a waste of tax-payers’ money. They say its actions are putting 29,000 jobs in the solar industry on the line and could see the sector reduced to a tenth of its current size.
"This misguided appeal will only add to the uncertainty hovering over the renewable clean energy industry and the tens of thousands of people it employs," said Andy Atkins, executive editor of Friends of the Earth, one of the organisations that took the Government to court over the solar FiT cuts.
HomeSun ceo Daniel Green, told ClickGreen: "We are hugely disappointed that Ed Davey is choosing to pursue an expensive lost cause rather than working with the industry to build a successful future for solar.
"Four Judges, one at Judicial Review and three in The Court of Appeal, ruled that the Government had acted unlawfully in setting a retrospective 'reference’ date for the FiTs cut. We wonder why Ed Davey wants to be a loser. He wasn’t the orchestrator of the Feed-in Tariff fiasco so why does he want it on his CV?"
But DECC insists that it has no choice but to continue its fight because not to would threaten the future of the entire FiT scheme and could cost consumers £1.5 billion in the long-run.
Appealing to the Supreme Court is a long and drawn out process, however. Because the Court of Appeal refused DECC leave to appeal, Ministers have to apply directly, a process that will take two months to conclude – after the March 3 contingency deadline for the FiT cuts. And should the appeal bid be successful, it will likely take a year before the case reaches the Supreme Court.
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