Friends of the Earth Scotland welcomed The Court of Appeal’s unanimous rejection today (Wednesday 25 January 2012) of the UK government’s attempt to overturn a High Court ruling stating that its plans to rush through sudden cuts to solar tariff payments were illegal.

The government is now seeking permission to appeal to the Supreme Court. Friends of the Earth Scotland says any further appeal will create yet more uncertainty for solar firms and after two courts have ruled their move illegal is urging Ministers to concentrate on safeguarding the industry rather than wasting more time and money on further appeals.

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Chief Executive Stan Blackley said:

“This landmark judgement confirms that devastating UK government plans to rush through cuts to solar payments were and are illegal – and will prevent UK Ministers from causing industry chaos with similar cuts in future.

“The UK government must now take steps to safeguard the solar industry and the 29,000 jobs still facing the chop across the UK, including potentially more than 2,000 in Scotland.

“Ministers must abandon plans to tighten the screw on which homes qualify for solar payments – and use the massive tax revenues generated by solar to protect the industry.

“Helping more people to plug into clean energy will help protect cash-strapped households from soaring fuel bills.”

The High Court ruled shortly before Christmas that UK government plans to cut payments for any solar scheme completed after 12 December – 11 days before the official consultation closed – were unlawful. The judgement followed legal challenges brought by Friends of the Earth (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) and two solar firms, Solarcentury and HomeSun, last month.

Today’s judgement will prevent UK Ministers rushing through cuts to feed-in tariff payments in the future, restoring some confidence to the clean energy industry.

Friends of the Earth Scotland is urging UK Ministers to find more money – paid for from tax payments the industry generates – to safeguard the long-term stability of the solar industry.

Today’s ruling means that, subject to any further appeal to the Supreme Court, solar tariff payments will remain at 43.3p (p/kWh) until 3 March 2012 when – following government moves last week – they will fall to 21 pence.

ENDS

For media enquiries, please contact:
 Per Fischer, Press Office, Friends of the Earth Scotland
 t: 0131 243 2719

Notes to Editors

1. Today’s judgement means that the original 43.3p (p/kWh) rate will apply for anyone installing solar panels until 3 March 2012 for domestic systems, when it will drop to 21p. The UK government took steps to introduce the new March cut-off date last week. Friends of the Earth welcomed the clarity the move will bring to the solar industry. See government statement:
www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/news/WMSCH_FITs/

2. The Court of Appeal ruling will give certainty to the industry that Ministers will not be able to act so abruptly in future. The Courts have ruled that UK ministers must first consult with industry and then instigate Parliamentary procedures that take 40 days to enact.

3. Friends of the Earth Scotland is * Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation * An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland * Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 77 national member groups, and some 5,000 local activist groups – covering every continent.
www.foe-scotland.org.uk