Campaigners pursue legal action on solar subsidy cuts

Campaign group Friends of the Earth (FoE) has confirmed that it will take the government to court over plans to reduce subsidies for small-scale solar power installations under the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) scheme.

The charity announced the move after the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) refused to back down on consultation proposals that would cut FiT rates for solar photovoltaic installations of up to 250kW by up to half.

Under DECC’s proposals, the reduced rates would apply to solar panels installed after 12 December. FoE said this cut-off point, almost two weeks before the consultation ends, is unlawful and urged DECC to extend the consultation until at least mid February.

It said the measure would cause the abandonment of numerous solar schemes in the planning stages. It also claimed that the wording of the consultation gives no confidence that ministers will keep an open mind about representations made.

"Slashing payments to any scheme completed after 12 December will unfairly pull the plug on thousands of clean energy schemes across the UK, preventing homes and communities from escaping soaring fuel bills," said FoE policy and campaigns director Craig Bennett.

DECC’s proposals have also come under fire from business lobby group the Confederation of British Industry. Director-general John Cridland said they are "the latest in a string of government own goals".

"Some companies have invested heavily in solar photovoltaic systems and in the supply chains needed to install them. That commitment has been undermined by the FiT decision and so industry trust and confidence in the government has evaporated," said Cridland.

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