Government denies responsibility for losses from FITs cut

High Court

The Department of Energy and Climate Change is set to appear in court to defend a claim for £2.2m of damages from solar firms over its slashing of the feed-in-tariff after the firms escalated their legal action.

In October 2011 the government announced that it would slash by half the feed-in-tariff (FIT) for solar power, which is paid to those people that install solar panels on their property for the power generated. The announcement prompted a slump in the industry, with installations falling 97%.

But the move was subsequently ruled illegal by the High Court because the 12 December cut off date stipulated by the government was before the government’s consultation on the change had ended.

In July three solar firms lodged a claim against the government for £2.2m because of losses resulting from the cut imposed last year asking for the amount to be settled without appearing in court. But earlier this month DECC responded to the firms denying responsibility for the losses.

Today, the firms have lodged their case with the High Court asking it to decide on the validity of the claim.

Nick Keighley, founding director, Solarlec PV Solutions, one of the companies seeking damages, said: “DECC had every opportunity to stop this issue reaching the courts. All DECC needed to do was accept responsibility and help our businesses recover to deliver at the scale and pace required to meet its own policy objectives.

“The government simply needs to accept that the losses incurred as a result of its unlawful conduct were very real and caused substantial harm to our firms.”

A spokeswoman for DECC said that the department was still preparing its full response to the claim.