Government loses solar subsidy fight

The government has lost its battle to cut solar subsidies, with the Supreme Court upholding a ruling that the premature cuts were unlawful. 

Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) Secretary Edward Davey claimed the government was “disappointed” at the court’s decision, while the solar industry claimed its victory at last.

The government had attempted to enforce halving solar subsidy feed in tariffs (FITs) before a consultation had been completed, coming into effect in December rather than in April as planned.

While the government argued that the costly subsidies were unsustainable, it was a move which had the solar industry and environmental agencies up in arms. 

Legal action by organisations such as Friends of the Earth was then taken against DECC, with the High Court ruling that the department had acted unlawfully.

Despite drawing criticism for creating confusion among the public, and throwing the growing photovoltaic panel industry into chaos, the government vowed to press its case. The lengthy battle involved rejected government appeals culminating in a last ditch effort to plead its case to the Supreme Court.

However, it was announced today that its fight was over with the government losing yet another appeal.

While Davey was disappointed he said that the court’s decision “draws a line under the case”.

“We will now focus all our efforts on ensuring the future stability and cost effectiveness of solar and other microgeneration technologies for the many, not the few,” he said in a statement. 

The Solar Trade Association was also keen to see an end to the solar spat, claiming that the ruling “marks the end of this particular turbulent chapter for the UK solar sector”.

While the battle may have been won, STA chief Steve Barwell admitted that the war over FITs is still in the government’s hands. He welcomed the certainty “for those who invested and installed since 12thDecember”, but he highlighted “serious concerns” about the FIT bedget

”It is vital that the solar industry receives sufficient support, or we risk losing good quality firms over the next year,” he said.