More legal delays keep solar industry in limbo

The solar industry remains in limbo after the Court of Appeal failed to decide whether to hold a full hearing into the government’s handling of the proposed support cuts.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change lodged grounds of appeal after a High Court judge ruled that DECC’s plans to slash Feed-in Tariff support for solar were legally flawed (see below).

It was hoped the Court of Appeal would either grant permission for an appeal or make a judgment on the Feed-in Tariffs case last Friday (13 January), but this decision could now still be weeks away.

“The court will wrap up the decision on permission for an appeal and a possible judgment if an appeal is allowed in the next few weeks,” a DECC spokesman said. “Once the outcome is known we will consider our options and make an announcement on the way forward to provide clarity to consumers and industry.”

But the ongoing confusion and uncertainty was damaging the solar industry, which could not move on, Phil McVan, managing director of renewable energy installation company Myriad CEG Power said.

“In an attempt to use a legal challenge to minimise the damage to its creditability the government has simply created a fiasco – the uncertainty and confusion has left the entire industry in limbo.

“The government’s poorly thought out strategies, lack of foresight and failure to act on the major warning signs that the scheme was flawed, brought the industry to its knees,” he said.

The Feed-in Tariff saga:

1 April 2010: Feed-in Tariffs launched

7 Feb 2011: DECC said it planned to carry out a “fast-track” review of support for large-scale solar, due to fears about the number of solar farms being built putting pressure on FiTs budget

18 March 2011: Fast-track review consultation published – consultation was open until 6 May

9 June 2011: Government confirmed it would go ahead with the proposed cuts to large-scale solar

1 August 2011: Lower rates for large-scale solar came into effect. Industry rushed to get projects completed on time

31 October 2011: DECC launched a consultation into dramatic support cuts for smaller-scale solar, due to ongoing budgetary concerns. Cuts were due to come into effect from 12 December 2011, 11 days before the consultation closed

12 December 2011: Solar arrays installed after this date would receive the proposed lower FiT rate

16 December 2011: Campaigners won a judicial review of DECC’s handling of the latest Feed-in Tariffs consultation in the High Court

21 December 2011: DECC said it would appeal the High Court decision

13 January 2012: Court of Appeal was due to decide whether to hold a full hearing into DECC’s handling of FiTs consultation, but no decision was reached

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