Goverment’s decision to challenge High Court ruling causes further confusion for solar industry

The solar industry has been left in limbo after the government decided to appeal a High Court ruling that said its timetable for cutting the feed-in tariff for solar electricity was illegal.

Last month a High Court judge ruled that the government’s proposal to halve the FITs for solar electricity from April 2012 for installations completed after 12 December last year was illegal because it pre-dated the end of the consultation on the plans on 23 December.

This appeal is throwing further confusion into the industry

Daniel Green, Homesun

But today the government lodged an appeal of the decision with the Court of Appeal and a decision on whether the government will be granted permission to appeal is expected imminently.

Daniel Green, chief executive of HomeSun, one of the solar firms which brought the legal challenge to the government’s consultation, said: “The whole FITs debacle is being compounded by this appeal because it’s throwing further confusion into the industry it’s supposed to be giving clarity to.”

Green said that because existing clients rushed forward installations to meet the 12 December deadline and new clients were waiting to see the outcome of the court case, there was now a shortage of work.

David Hawkins, director of solar panel supplier and installer Solar Europa, said several of his public sector clients were now reconsidering deals which could have been signed already in the hope of getting a greater level of return from the tariff.

“Some of the financial models which the housing associations were offered were quite substantial at the higher rate,” he said.

Contractor Carillion, which Building revealed has put 4,500 staff on notice of redundancy in response to the FITs cuts, said it would press on with downsizing its energy services division because the government could still reduce the FITs by April even if its appeal is unsuccessful.