Government to appeal solar ruling
The Government is to fight on after losing its bid in the Court of Appeal to cut subsidies for solar panels on homes.
Three appeal judges have unanimously upheld a High Court ruling that Energy Secretary Chris Huhne lacks the power to introduce the controversial "retrospective" scheme.
Later Mr Huhne remained defiant - even though four judges have now ruled against him, with none in his favour - and confirmed he would seek to appeal to the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land.
His decision will cause dismay to the solar industry, which says continuing uncertainty triggered by the legal action has already led to projects being abandoned and jobs lost. The Renewable Energy Association (REA) called for an end to the "fiasco" so that "the UK solar industry can get back to business".
John Cridland, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry, added his weight to the call, saying: "The judgment should be used to draw a line under this saga, which saw the Government scoring a spectacular own goal and confidence in the renewables sector undermined."
However, Greg Barker, the minister of state for energy and climate change, told BBC Radio 4's World at One programme it was necessary to fight on "to put the brakes on a subsidy-fuelled boom impacting on people's electricity bills". He said: "This could cost, if we're not successful, consumers £1.5 billion. That is a big sum of money and I think it worth taking legal risk in order to protect the consumer."
The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) argues solar panels are getting cheaper and current subsidy levels are "too generous" and will severely deplete resources available for future solar generators and other alternative energy technologies - as well as hit the consumer's pocket.
The Government wants to reduce feed-in tariff subsidies (FITs) - payments made to households and communities that generate green electricity through solar panels - on any installations completed after December 12 last year.
High Court judge Mr Justice Mitting ruled before Christmas that it would be unlawful to implement plans to approve the cuts in April this year by referring back to the December 12 deadline. The deadline fell 11 days before the end of a consultation period on the proposals.
Lawyers for Mr Huhne appealed and argued that Mr Justice Mitting had gone wrong in law and the Secretary of State possessed the necessary power to modify the tariff rate in the way he proposed under the 2008 Energy Act. But appeal judges Lord Justice Lloyd, Lord Justice Moses and Lord Justice Richards disagreed.