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Feed in tariff cut proposals unlawful, says High Court

Government plans to rush through cuts to solar tariff payments are illegal, the High Court ruled yesterday.

The court agreed that proposals to cut feed in tariff payments for any solar scheme completed after 12 December, 11 days before the official consultation closed, were unlawful. The government had said that subsidies for households that installed solar panels would be halved from 12 December.

The challenge was brought to the High Court by environmental charity Friends of the Earth and solar firms Solarcentury and HomeSun.

“These botched and illegal plans have cast a huge shadow over the solar industry, jeopardising thousands of jobs,” said Friends of the Earth executive director Andy Atkins. “We hope this ruling will prevent ministers rushing through damaging changes to clean energy subsidies, giving solar firms a much-needed confidence boost.
Climate change minister Greg Barker said that the Department for Energy and Climate Change disagreed with the court’s decision. “We will be seeking an appeal and hope to secure a hearing as soon as possible,” he said. “Regardless of [yesterday’s] outcome, the current high tariffs for solar photovoltaics are not sustainable and changes need to be made in order to protect the budget which is funded by consumers through their energy bills.”

Feed in tariffs at a glance

Under the feed in tariffs programme, those who install solar panels are paid for the electricity they generate.

The new tariff of 21p per kWh down from the current 43p, had been expected to come into effect from 1 April, but in October the government said it would be paid to anyone who installed their solar panels after 12 December.

The tariff for surplus electricity exported to the national grid will remain at 3.1p per kWh.

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