UK: DECC takes FIT appeal to Supreme Court

A DECC spokesperson told pv magazine that the appeal will be lodged today with the Supreme Court. In a separate statement released, they 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."

Responding to the news, the country’s Renewable Energy Association (REA) stated, "The REA is disappointed to see DECC going ahead with its second appeal of December’s Judicial Review on feed-in tariffs … after the case has already been rejected by four judges. This could prolong by several months the consumer uncertainty for installations between 12 December 2011 and 3 March 2012, which is most regrettable."

However, referring to the DECC’s announcement on February 9 that it wanted to make the FITs more "predictable" by introducing a number of new reforms, REA chief executive, Gaynor Hartnell, is confident that the government is taking the inportance of solar on board. "The realization is slowly dawning that solar can play a much bigger role in the future," he said.

After the decision was taken by the High Court to reject DECC’s appeal on January 25, Edmund Robb, Barrister and Director at U.K.-based Prospect Law Ltd said that he was confident any appeal to the Supreme Court would be refused. He added, "… further down the line, DECC may well choose quietly to drop any application to appeal once the PR ‘heat’ has gone out of the FITS/PV story and the new payment rates have come into effect after 03/03/2012 …"

He went on to say, "DECC’s strategy appears to be designed: (i) to save face amongst ministers and their advisors; and (ii) to further perpetuate a sense of uncertainty amongst consumers and the PV industry."

Responding to criticism at the time, the then Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Chris Huhne – who has since stepped down from his position following accusations that he had perverted the course of justice – commented, "We have already put before Parliament changes to the regulations that will bring a 21p rate into effect from April for solar pv installations from 3 March to help reduce the pressure on the budget and provide as much certainty as we can for consumers and industry.

"We want to maximize the number of installations that are possible within the available budget rather than use available money to pay a higher tariff to half the number of installations. Solar PV can have strong and vibrant future in UK and we want a lasting FITs scheme to support that future and jobs in the industry."