Solar firms to sue government for £140m

A group of solar firms are planning to sue the Government for £140million in the latest twist to the sage over subsidy cuts, it emerged this week. 17 British solar […]

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By Vicky Ellis

A group of solar firms are planning to sue the Government for £140million in the latest twist to the sage over subsidy cuts, it emerged this week.

17 British solar and construction firms have banded together to demand compensation for loss of business because of what they describe as the “illegal” solar Feed-in Tariff (FiT) cut.

The legal action resurrects a row which seemed to have been resolved in early 2012 when judges ruled in January the Government was wrong to cut solar the FiT subsidy in half without giving enough notice.

At the time DECC was forced to impose smaller reductions of the Government payments to clean electricity generators.

Now solar firms claim the confusion and cut to the FiT led to a sudden slump in orders and thousands of redundancies in the sector last year.

The claim is being led by Prospect Law, the energy law firm that previously defeated the Government over the cuts and the claims range in size from £250,000 to tens of millions of pounds.

Simon Gillett, Chief Executive of E-tricity, one of the claimants, said: “The industry was treated very badly and companies must be healthy and ready to work to meet demand. Last year should have been our year for growth, innovation, investment and training, but instead it was an ‘annus horriblus’ peppered with cut backs, customer confusion, part time working, stress and redundancies. We had to let 30% of our staff go.”

While he said the “good news” is that solar is once again a sound investment, he added: “We are calling for compensation after this illegal action to help us get up to speed again and help secure the clean and affordable energy supply we need.”

The other organisations claiming damages are Solar Power PV Ltd, Solarlec, Crystal Windows and Doors, Breyer Group Plc, Freetricity Plc, Foz Electrical, Green Home Ltd, CI Installations, Viscount Solar Ltd, Vsolar Ltd, House Choice, Evo Energy, Solar Panels Direct, Monitor My Solar, Apollo Energy, Cleaner Air Solutions.

The Government plans to defend itself in court, with a DECC spokesperson adding: “While we can’t comment on the details of individual cases, the Department does not accept it has any liability and we will vigorously defend our position.”