Delayed court judgement leaves solar in ‘limbo’

The solar industry is in “limbo” after judges failed to decide whether DECC can appeal the case brought against it for cutting solar subsidies. On Friday, Lord Justices reserved their […]

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By Vicky Ellis

The solar industry is in “limbo” after judges failed to decide whether DECC can appeal the case brought against it for cutting solar subsidies.

On Friday, Lord Justices reserved their judgement on whether DECC would be able to appeal Justice Mitting’s recent ruling in the High Court that cuts to the FiT were “unlawful”.

Campaigners reacted to the news with disappointment.

John Dixon Hart of MCS Solar Ltd who came down from Yorkshire, said he was upset about the delay.

“I’m feeling a bit sick in my stomach and very insecure. I’ve got people to pay and I can’t finish contracts because I don’t know if I’m going to be able to give customers the higher Feed-in Tariff.

“People are getting aggressive towards me and customers are getting upset with me. It’s a bit of a nightmare.”

Fellow solar installer Andrew Ronnan, director of Solar Power PV Ltd in Lancashire said his firm was lucky enough to get most solar panel orders done by 12 December, the date DECC plans to change the amount of subsidy given to solar power if the court gives it permission.

But Mr Ronnan had stern words for the Energy Secretary: “I think the Secretary of State’s action was reckless. If you do a deal at 43p per kilowatt hour, by vested interest you have the right to that deal for 25 years. Obviously the court of appeal judges will be wrestling with that argument but hopefully it will stick.”

Donna Hume, campaigner at Friends of the Earth said though damage isn’t “irreparable” yet, government needs to act swiftly to limit the impact of more delay.

She told ELN: “The damage is not irreparable at this stage. The government should end the uncertainty as soon as possible because every day that goes past at the moment is another day of damage, with companies potentially laying off staff, coming to an end of their redundancy notices, because today you have no idea what your Feed-in Tariff rate will be.”

The Lord Justices now have to make a draft judgement which they will hand down to the court. There is no set time limit for this decision, said the clerk of the court.

A DECC spokesperson 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.”