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UK Government loses Feed-in Tariff appeal

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The UK Government has failed in its attempt to appeal to the Supreme Court over its plan to cut subsidies for solar panels on homes.

In it's judgement, the Supreme Court said it could not challenge a High Court ruling that blocked the halving of payments to households generating solar energy.

Critics argued the plan to bring the lower rate in in December was too short notice and lacked proper consultation. The lower tariff will now apply to panels installed after 1 April. Campaigners argued that the plans had caused huge uncertainty in the industry, which employs tens of thousands of people.

Friends of the Earth's executive director Andy Atkins described the ruling as "a landmark decision which will prevent ministers causing industry chaos with similar subsidy cuts in future".

Responding to the decision by the Supreme Court on the
Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Davey said: “We are disappointed by the decision of the Supreme Court not to grant permission to hear this case. But the Court’s decision draws a line under the case. We will now focus all our efforts on ensuring the future stability and cost effectiveness of solar and other microgeneration technologies for the many, not the few.”

Under the feed-in tariffs programme, people in the UK with solar panels are paid for the electricity they generate. The new tariff of 21p per kilowatt hour, down from the current 43.3p/kwh, had been expected to come into effect for panels finished after 1 April, but in October the Government said it would be paid to anyone who installed their solar panels after 12 December 2011.

The Government held a consultation on the proposals which closed on 23 December, and to which the EAUC submitted a response (click here to view the EAUC's reponse).

The High Court ruled that changing the tariffs before the end of an official consultation period was "legally flawed".

Upholding that ruling, the Supreme Court said the Government's appeal "does not raise an arguable point of law of general public importance which ought to be considered by the Supreme Court at this time".

The court's decision now means that all domestic installations finished before 3 March this year will still get the higher 43.3p rate. Installations finished between 3 March and 31 March temporarily get the old higher rate until 1 April then it is reduced to 21p.

The legal challenge was initiated by Friends of the Earth and two solar firms, Solarcentury and HomeSun.

For more information on the Government's Feed-in Tariffs policy, click here.


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