Government faces legal action over solar subsidy cuts
The government is facing legal action following the announcement to drastically reduce Feed-in Tariff (FiT) payouts
The first to react was Friends of the Earth (FoE), which wrote to climate change minister Greg Barker on 4 November, warning that court proceedings would begin last Friday, 11 November, if it failed to amend the FiT reductions, reported sister title H&V News.
FoE has since announed it will now proceed with its legal action, after the government replied that the issues raised were not considered to be urgent and no further action would be taken.
The government’s actions have received widespread condemnation from companies and industry bodies, including the CBI, which condemned the move as an ‘own goal’ by ministers.
FoE says the cut-off point for the introduction of cuts, two weeks before the consultation ends, is unlawful.
The environmental charity states that it has evidence that projects are already being abandoned and solar firm redundancies have either taken place or are being urgently considered.
Its views are shared by Solarcentury, which has also announced plans to begin legal action.
Many in the industry have expressed concern that the consultation results will be largely ignored, as the cuts will be in place before it ends.
Tobi Kellner of the Centre for Alternative Technology said: ‘There is a history of schemes running out of funds (the Low Carbon Buildings Programme), being delayed for years (the Renewable Heat Incentive) or being very suddenly and dramatically cut (FiTs). This damages the growth of any green industry in the UK.
‘Commitment to new sustainable technologies means significant investments, especially for small or medium-sized companies. Businesses can’t afford to have the rug pulled out from under them. Furthermore, making energy efficiency a condition for receiving FiTs only makes sense if there are viable incentives for energy efficiency measures which are suitable for the large proportion of UK households who live in older buildings.’
He added: ‘Currently any household can install solar panels and benefit from FiTs; the new measures could exclude up to two thirds of Britain’s housing. Linking FiTs to energy efficiency is a good idea but the government must also back that up by making energy efficiency measures financially viable for the majority of UK households,’