The Government’s decision to cut solar panel subsidies before the end of the consultation period has been judged to be unlawful by the High Court. Alex Blackburne has the details.
Plans to slash subsidies for household solar panels are illegal, according to the High Court.
The Government had proposed cuts to the existing feed-in tariff scheme, prompting angry individuals and environmental groups to force legal action against the decision ].
And now, the Government’s plans have been deemed to be “legally flawed”, meaning it could be forced to delay the cuts pending a judicial review, allowing thousands of people to be eligible for the higher subsidy.
Juliet Davenport, CEO and founder of Good Energy, the UK’s only 100% renewable electricity supplier, said although the ruling was good, there is still a long way to go.
“Many people will welcome the ruling, but there remains an urgent need to get to the nub of the issue which is reforming the FiT so that it doesn’t keep becoming a victim of its own success.
“The proposed minimum energy efficiency standard for new projects, for example, has nothing to do with energy efficiency and everything to do with stopping new entrants to the scheme.
“That barrier is being put there because the long-term structure of the policy isn’t right”, Davenport continued.
“The FiT is the best tool we have for delivering the kind of decentralised energy system we need in this country to tackle the energy challenges we face.
“It gives people control over their energy bills and helps them reduce their carbon emissions. Let’s see the Government commit to the scheme’s future by focussing on the issues that really matter.”
Friends of the Earth’s executive director, Andy Atkins, commented on the effect the initial decision to cut subsidies had on the sector.
“These botched and illegal plans have cast a huge shadow over the solar industry, jeopardising thousands of jobs”, he said.
“We hope this ruling will prevent Ministers rushing through damaging changes to clean energy subsidies – giving solar firms a much-needed confidence boost.”
On Blue & Green Tomorrow, we have highlighted the importance of a successful feed-in tariff scheme, drawing influence from Germany’s fruitful policy that has allowed them to become world leaders in renewable energy.
Atkins concluded on what he hoped the future would bring for the sector.
“Ministers must now come up with a sensible plan that protects the UK’s solar industry and allows cash-strapped homes and businesses to free themselves from expensive fossil fuels by plugging into clean energy.”
“Solar payments should fall in line with falling installation costs but the speed of the Government’s proposals threatened to devastate the entire industry.”
The deadline for the higher subsidy was December 11th. Good Energy’s offices stayed open over the weekend to ensure users could apply for the solar incentive right up until the last minute.
Head of business development at Good Energy, Hugo House, had previously written an article for Blue & Green Tomorrow about how the proposed cuts would affect the industry.