Friends of the Earth to take legal action over government solar cuts

Friends of the Earth is taking the government to court over its plans to slash financial incentives for households and communities that install solar electricity, the environmental campaigning charity confirmed today after Ministers failed to respond to concerns it set out in a legal letter last week.

Friends of the Earth wrote to climate change minister Greg Barker, [on Friday 4 November 2011] warning that unless the Government agreed to amend its proposals by 4pm today [Friday 11 November 2011] it would commence court proceedings. The government failed to do so, sending instead a brief holding response indicating it didn’t believe the issues raised were urgent and therefore it didn’t intend to respond within the deadline.

The legal challenge follows the announcement earlier this month of government plans to impose lower feed-in tariff payments – cash given to households generating green electricity through solar panels – on any installations completed after 12 December this year. The CBI has condemned the move as an ‘own goal’ by ministers.

Friends of the Earth says this cut-off point, two weeks before the consultation ends, is unlawful and has evidence that projects are already being abandoned and solar firm redundancies have either taken place or are being urgently considered.

Friends of the Earth’s policy and campaigns director Craig Bennett, said: “Ministers have failed to listen to our concerns about the legality of their plans to slash solar subsidies – we have now been left with no choice but to take the government to court.

“Slashing payments to any scheme completed after 12 December will unfairly pull the plug on thousands of clean energy schemes across the UK, preventing homes and communities from escaping soaring fuel bills.

“Ministers have pulled the rug from under the feet of one of the few areas of the economy that is creating new jobs – and completely undermined business confidence in clean energy.”