Government appeal rejected – Feed-in Tariff could be set to return to 43.3p
On Wednesday 25th January, the Court of Appeal upheld the ruling that cuts to the Feed-in Tariff were ‘unlawful’.
The decision that the Government had acted unlawfully by imposing cuts to the Feed-in Tariff from 12th December last year was upheld on the grounds that the consultation for the proposed changes to the scheme did not close until 23rd December. Following a hearing which took place 12 days ago, the Court rejected the Government’s right to appeal the ruling.
This judgement effectively puts in place a new date of 3rd March for the start of the 21p tariff rate for Solar PV installations, meaning customers who install PV systems prior to this date are eligible to receive the previous higher rate of 43.3p per kWh – including those who installed after the original deadline of 12th December last year. Those who install a PV system after 3rd March will be eligible to receive the higher rate until 1st April when it will be reduced to 21p per kWh.
The ruling was a victory for the solar industry, who have been outraged by the Government’s proposals to apply changes to the scheme retrospectively. Lord Justice Moses stated that to do so “would be to take away an existing entitlement without statutory authority”.
Tony O’Connor, Managing Director of BritishEco, commented that “This ruling proves that the Government cannot make retrospective changes to schemes – whether that be in the solar industry or any other. The Government must now work with us to create a stable future for solar PV in the UK and realise that solar is part of our future”.
During the period approaching the previous change in the tariff, a record number of solar PV installations were carried out in the UK, leading the UK’s solar capacity to top half a gigawatt. It is thought that in the run up to 3rd March the industry will see a similar rush for PV installations.
The solar industry is now calling on the Government to draw a line under the affair. “We all need some clarity and to be able to communicate with our customers with absolute certainty. The Government’s defeat today should signal the end of this fiasco and allow us all to get back to business,” Tony O’Connor commented, “The Government must now move on and deliver a tariff which is fair and supports the industry”.
However, Chris Huhne announced via the Department of Energy and Climate Change that they are ‘seeking permission to appeal to the Supreme Court’. Whilst the Court today denied them this further appeal, the Government are entitled to request this permission from the Supreme Court and subsequently further extend the period of uncertainty for the industry and consumers.
“A total of 4 Judges have now ruled against the Government, which suggests to us that the likelihood of any further Judges supporting the Government’s argument is negligible. It is therefore our opinion at BritishEco that the 43.3p rate will be in place until 3rd March” Tony O’Connor stated.