Government loses FiT appeal bid

The Court of Appeal has upheld a High Court ruling that government cuts to the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) were unlawful.

The three Lords Justices of Appeal announced their reserved judgement this morning following a hearing 10 days ago.

Today’s decision is a damaging blow to Ministers and officials at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, who must now introduce the contingency date of March 3 for the start of the 21p rate for solar PV and not the original December 12 deadline.

The court judgement also means customers who have had solar panels installed and are registered ahead of the new March 3 cut-off point will now receive the original 43p rate for 25 years.

Customers who register on or after March 3 will qualify for the current higher rate until April 1, when it will drop to 21p.

HomeSun CEO, Daniel Green, said: “Four Judges, including three in The Court of Appeal, have now called the government’s actions illegal. That’s a 4-Nil victory and a decisive ruling that government may not make retrospective changes to the FiT because, as Lord Justice Moses concludes, to do so ‘would be to take away an existing entitlement without statutory authority’.

“The Secretary of State has failed to have proper regard for the rights conferred by the FIT, which aims to encourage homeowners to generate their own energy. Like a government bond, that rate is fixed depending on the date the installation becomes eligible and government cannot change it as they choose.

“Both this appeal and the Judicial Review in The High Court would not have been required had DECC simply followed its own process and allowed the industry, that it claims to support, time to prepare for a lower Feed-in Tariff.

“Almost everybody except DECC have appreciated the potential and importance of the solar industry – from The National Trust, the Church of England through to the CBI as well as the British people. Surely this must be the point at which Chris Huhne stops taking the side of the big six energy companies and realize that solar is part of our future.”

On the next steps government should take, HomeSun CEO, Daniel Green, said: “The government must now move on and deliver a Feed in Tariff which is fair and not just for the rich. This means, dropping the so called ‘aggregator tariff’ which will discriminate again companies trying to provide free solar or low cost solar and punish private homeowners that don’t have £1000s in the bank. Solar should not be just for the rich.

“The big six energy providers have been shown in many surveys to be amongst the least favourite companies in the UK. The recent court case successes, in both The High Court and now The Court of Appeal, further demonstrate that HomeSun is prepared to stand up on behalf of the British public against unfair practices and relentless energy price rises even if it means taking them, or the government, on in court.”

The government has been refused permission to appeal in the Supreme Court.