Today in the Court of Appeal, the government has lost its appeal against the High Court's original ruling that the 12th December deadline for the imposition of cuts to the Feed-in Tariff was illegal. The December 12th deadline fell 11 days before the end of the government consultation. According to The Guardian this means that thousands of homes and businesses will now be able to claim the higher rate.
The government's appeal, delivered by Energy Secretary Chris Huhne was unanimously rejected by three Court of Appeal judges, who also refused the government permission to take the case to the Supreme Court. However Mr Huhne can evade this ruling against further legal action by taking the case directly to the Supreme Court, something he has chosen to do prompting immediate condemnation by opponents of the cuts. He has 28 days to request another appeal in the Supreme Court.
Caroline Lucas MP, leader of the Green Party, stated "Having lost twice in the courts and been roundly humiliated over the shambolic handling of solar policy, it is absolutely beggars belief that Huhne is planning to appeal to the supreme court.". Her sentiments were echoed by Daniel Green of HomeSun who commented "Almost everybody except DECC have appreciated the potential and importance of the solar industry – from the National Trust, the Church of England through to the CBI as well as the British people. Surely this must be the point at which Huhne stops taking the side of the big six energy companies and realise that solar is part of our future." While accepting some cuts were necessary, green campaigners and industry executives have claimed that thousands of jobs have already been lost in the industry.
The Guardian estimates that around £58,000 worth of taxpayers money has been spent in legal fees on the case so far. Huhne's decision to take the case further will effectively create further confusion in the industry, reducing the number of installations and the numbers eligible for the tariff if the government loses.
Gaynor Hartnell of the Renewable Energy Association said that the judgement had prevented a precedent being set which would enable the government to make further retrospective changes in policy. Meanwhile Jeremy Leggett of SolarCentury stated that the decision was "a historic judgment that should be welcomed by the entire renewable energy industry."