The protracted legal battle over dramatic PV feed-in-tariff (FIT) reductions announced last fall by the U.K.'s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has finally come to an end. The U.K. Supreme Court has announced that it will not hear an appeal from the DECC, which was seeking to overturn lower court decisions ruling that the agency's FIT cuts were illegal.
Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey acknowledged that the decision – which was issued following a unanimous vote – represents the end of the road for the DECC's legal challenge.
‘We are disappointed by the decision of the Supreme Court not to grant permission to hear this case,’ Davey said in a statement. ‘But the court's decision draws a line under the case. We will now focus all our efforts on ensuring the future stability and cost effectiveness of solar and other microgeneration technologies for the many, not the few.’
The back-and-forth legal tussle – which centered on the DECC's failure to undergo required consultation procedures before deciding to slash solar FIT levels – has had a negative effect on the U.K.'s PV development market, and installers are hopeful that the ruling will allow for a return to normalcy.
‘For the first time in four months, the U.K solar industry can look forward and plan for the future without this underlying uncertainty,’ said Alan John, head of renewable energy at law firm Osborne Clarke, in a statement.
PV integrator Solarcentury, which – along with Friends of the Earth and HomeSun – filed the initial legal challenge against the DECC, is eager to return to normalcy. The DECC's final legal challenge ‘wasted much needed time and money, and now we, the renewables industry, simply want to get on with creating our clean energy future,’ Jeremy Leggett, chairman of Solarcentury, said in a statement.
‘I hope the government is now clear that it will be held to account if it tries to act illegally and push through unlawful policy changes,’ Leggett added.
Osborne Clarke's John urged both sides to work collaboratively in order to grow the U.K. PV market, now that the legal drama has ended. ‘The relationship between the industry and DECC is crucial, and both sides now need to focus on making that as constructive as possible,’ he said in his statement.
‘In particular, the industry needs to continue to lobby hard for non-tariff-related support from the government to promote the solar industry and embed the technology as a mainstream part of the U.K.'s energy mix,’ he added.