As the House will be aware, the Government’s proposed changes to the Feed-in Tariffs (FITs) scheme are the subject of a judicial review. Specifically, the Government has been challenged regarding its proposal to apply new tariffs for solar photovoltaics (PV) from 1 April 2012 to all new installations with an eligibility date on or after an earlier “reference date”, which we proposed should be 12 December 2011.
Yesterday, the Court of Appeal handed down a negative judgment on the Government’s appeal against an earlier decision by the High Court. We respectfully disagree with the judgment and are seeking permission to appeal to the Supreme Court. In the light of that, we cannot rule out the possibility that lower tariffs could be applied to installations which became eligible for FITs on or after the proposed reference date. It is important that consumers are aware of this.
The reason for appealing is that we want to maximise the number of installations that are possible within the available budget for FITs, 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.
We have already put before Parliament draft licence modifications that (subject to the Parliamentary process) would bring a 21p rate into effect from April for solar PV installations which become eligible for FITs on or after 3 March, to help reduce the pressure on the budget and provide as much certainty as we can for consumers and industry.
In the meantime, we want as far as possible to minimise the uncertainty for PV and other technologies eligible for support under FITs. We are therefore still intending to publish the phase 2 consultation by 9 February. This will include proposed tariffs for other FITs technologies and a set of reform proposals for the scheme. We are also intending to publish the Government’s response to the other aspects of the phase 1 consultation that are not affected by the Judicial Review (namely the proposals on energy efficiency and for multi-installation tariff rates).