Friday, 23 December 2011

Possibly, good news on solar panels

Don't know how widely this has been reported but the High Court yesterday ruled that the Government's consultation on solar panel feed-in cuts is 'legally flawed'.  The government has been refused leave to appeal by the judge.  What does this mean for the council, schools etc?  No idea!  But we may be able to go ahead with some schemes.

It's yet another example of this government's incompetence.  If they had phrased their consultation right they might have got away with it.  I'm getting a bit fed up of the way that they are making policy on the hoof and only later realising the complete hash they are making of it.

Well done to Friends of the Earth for leading this legal challenge, with backing from many local councils, solar firms and others!

Extract from Reading Borough Council press release:

Yesterday's High Court hearing follows a challenge by environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth. Reading Borough Council was one of numerous local authorities who backed the challenge.

The proposed Government cut would see 50% less money paid to householders, schools or organisations after March for solar panels not fitted by December 12 this year. However - despite this December 12 cut off point - the Government's consultation is still on-going and does not close until tomorrow (December 23).

In the High Court yesterday Mr Justice Mitting ruled that if the planned cuts were implemented in April, this would be unlawful as they would refer back to Dec 12th, which was still within the consultation period.

The judge also refused the Energy Secretary permission to appeal against his ruling yesterday saying his 'prospects of success' were insufficient to justify permission.

While at this stage it is still unclear what the ruling will mean for householders, schools and organisations wanting to install solar panels - as well as hard-hit solar panel installation firms - the High Court ruling has been welcomed by Paul Gittings, Reading's Lead Councillor for Environment and Climate Change.

He said: "I am delighted by this ruling which justifies the stance taken by Reading Borough Council in supporting the Friends of the Earth legal challenge. Our hope must be that solar pv projects in schools, community buildings, and on our own council estate, will go ahead as previously planned and attract the full tariff if they can be installed by the end of March, but we still await the full implications of the judgement.'

Reading Borough Council hopes the High Court ruling means that the previous feed-in tariffs would revert to pre-Dec 12th levels for the full 25 years for all installations made until the end of March. If that proves to be the case, previously planned projects may be able to go ahead with full benefits to schools and communities as originally planned.

If the lower levels are introduced from Dec 12th, or indeed any time before the end of March as proposed by the Government, planned projects which go ahead would have significantly fewer benefits.