Government Loses FiT Appeal.

January 25, 2012 by  
Filed under Climate Change, Village News

BREAKING (Updated 14:18 GMT)

The Court Of Appeals has rejected the appeal to overturn the High Court ruling which found the Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) reduction unlawful. The tariff remains at 43p for all solar PV installed before 3 March 2012. [note that's the THIRD of March]  Had the government won the appeal it would have had a major impact on many laws outside the scope of the Feed in Tariff (see below)

ON 31 October the government said it would cut the FiT from 43p to 21p for any installation completed on or after the 12th of December.  The High Court ruled on 21 December that the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) did not have the authority to cut the FiT RETROSPECTIVELY.  DECC was unhappy with that ruling and took the case to the Court of Appeals.  The Appeal was heard on Friday 13th January before a three judge panel.

Today Lord Justice Moses speaking for the panel of three Lord Justices rejected the government’s request for an appeal and also denied permission to a further appeal to the Supreme Court. The 14 page decision made it very clear that the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change had no authority to make modifications retrospectively.

The significance of this decision cannot be underestimated.  Had the government succeeded then it could have changed the FiT rates retrospectively at any time – even for those who had existing installations.  For example, homeowners who had already installed PV on their roofs and were entitled to receive 25 years of the FiT at the rate designated in their contracts could have found both the length and amounts lowered at any time at the whim of the Secretary of State.  The Justices had put that proposition to the government’s counsel during the Friday 13th hearing.  The government responded in the affirmative that they could exercise their retrospective power at any time for whatever reason without any further need to consult Parliament.  That response raised the eyebrows of each of the three justices!

“Vested Rights” is a term that was used throughout the original Appeals hearing.  These are rights that are given or earned with the expectation that they cannot be removed or altered at any time.  This raised the question of whether the government was using this FiT case as a precedent to alter or eliminate other “vested rights” or “entitlements” guaranteed by law.  Fortunately today’s ruling went against the government and will make it harder for them to argue they have powers beyond that which legislation gives them.

It should be remembered that Minister of State for Energy Greg Barker has been bragging to audiences in the United States that his government was making sweeping cuts that Margaret Thatcher could have only dreamed about. The implication was that he and ‘his government’ would continue to do so (with glee).  Barker appears to fancy himself as future Prime Minister material and seems to have decided to make his mark by cutting the feed in tariff.  If you watch the news tonight you will see he is a very unhappy bunny but still full of bravado in defeat.

The next step in this saga occurs on 9 February when the government will lay before Parliament modification for the next FiT year 2012-13.  That will set a new tariff for all of those wishing to install solar PV on their roofs after 1 April 2012. (It will have no effect on those who have already installed PV prior to that date).  Our own Village Energy Project is encouraging anyone wanting to install PV to act quickly.  Contact them at solar@hicourier.co.uk for advice or to arrange for a survey of your roof and a quotation.  Remember, the 43p FiT ends on the third of March 2012 so you must complete your PV installation before that date.

 

 

A big 'thank you' goes to Hollyoak Veterinary Surgery in Impington for their financial and technical support. Without it this website would not be possible.

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