News Article

High Court To Hear Solar Legal Challenge Application

The High Court has agreed to hear applications from Solarcentury,
Home Sun and Friends of the Earth to challenge the Government's plans to cut
Feed-in tariffs for solar electricity on 15 December, the UK's largest solar
energy company revealed today.


On 31 October the Government announced its plans to
impose lower feed-in tariff payments but surprised the industry by saying that
the lower rates would apply to any installations which are not completed by 12


Solarcentury says that this cut-off date, two weeks
before the consultation ends, is unlawful, irrational and unreasonable and has
already lead to unfinished or planned projects being abandoned. These include
major projects for Housing Associations and Local Authorities which planned to
complete by 31 March 2012, the original tariff change date, but which have no
hope of completion by 12th December. The Housing Associations have lost
hundreds of thousands of pounds themselves preparing for these schemes.


A recent report Commissioned by Friends of the Earth and
Cut Don't Kill "“ an alliance of solar firms and consumer and environmental
organisations "“ revealed that the soar cuts could cost up to 29,000 jobs and
cause the Treasury to lose up to £230 million a year in tax income.


The High Court will hear the three separate legal
challenges to the Government's feed-in tariffs, by Solarcentury, Home Sun and
Friends of the Earth, together on the same day. All claimants want to stop any
cuts to tariff levels being made until DECC has completed its consultation on
the changes correctly. The group regards the 12th December cut-off date as a
cynical move made without due regard to the inevitable and negative commercial
consequences for thousands of new businesses, their staff and customers.


Jeremy Leggett, Chairman, Solarcentury said: "I expect
the Court to look very carefully at this decision which Government has
cynically disguised as a consultation. We were given six short weeks and now,
when we want answers, they say "it was only a consultation" and it's not
urgent. Our customers who have spent hundreds of thousands of pounds preparing
long term projects see it very differently."


John Faulks, General Counsel for Solarcentury said, "To
get a permission hearing on 15 December is actually good progress. That may
sound ridiculous given the impact of the 12th December, but this is Judicial
Review. It's an involved court process. We've managed to get the standard
timetables significantly reduced on this case. It doesn't help that some people
new to Judicial Review are panicking that it's all over when really it hasn't
even started yet. We got knocked back on the written arguments at the initial
application stage. That's not unusual. The case starts for real on 15th
December. Let's focus on that permission hearing and not lose sight of the fact
that we all need to make sure DECC hears plenty of response to the consultation
itself. "

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