Ministers ask Supreme Court for permission to appeal

The government has asked the Supreme Court for permission to appeal against a High Court ruling that its plan to halve the feed-in-tariff for solar power in December was illegal.

The government announced plans to cut the feed-in-tariff for installations made after 12 December 2011 in October last year.

However, its consultation on the decision did not close until 23 December, which allowed Friends of the Earth and solar firms to successfully appeal to a high court judge to strike down the cut-off date as retrospective and illegal.

The Department for Energy and Climate Change subsequently applied to appeal the ruling at the Court of Appeal but that court denied it permission to appeal and upheld the High Court’s decision.

But DECC said the government would today file papers with the Supreme Court asking to have its case heard.

A DECC spokesperson said: “We respectfully disagree with the Court of Appeal’s decision on Feed-in Tariffs and we have today lodged an application with the Supreme Court seeking that court’s permission to appeal. We are now awaiting a decision of the Supreme Court on permission.

“We want to see the available funding spread as far and wide as possible making FITs a scheme for the many not a scheme for the few, supporting sustainable jobs in solar and in a whole range of small scale renewables.”

Jeremy Leggett, chair of Solarcentury, one of the firms which brought the case against the government said the government’s persistence with the appeal undermined its claim that it is trying to bring stability to the industry.

“We have been expecting this but we hoped that Ed Davey [the new secretary of state for energy] would see sense and not take the appeal,” he said.

Andy Atkins, executive director of Friends of the Earth, said: “A successful appeal will allow ministers to slash renewable energy subsidies at any time - even for solar panels and wind turbines that have been operating for years.”

“This misguided appeal will only add to the uncertainty hovering over the renewable clean energy industry and the tens of thousands of people it employs,” he added.