Councillors have urged the government to reconsider its plans to cut subsidies for solar energy after ministers failed to overturn a High Court verdict.
The Court of Appeal unanimously rejected government attempts to overturn last month’s High Court ruling that its plans to rush through sudden cuts to the tariff it pays for energy generated by solar panels and fed into the national grid are illegal.
And the LGA said the government should take this opportunity to take a second look at its plans to ensure they didn’t disproportionately affect social housing tenants.
“As solar panels become cheaper, it is right that the rate of feed-in tariff should be reduced accordingly. However, current proposals would mean social housing tenants receive a lower rate of subsidy than people who rent privately or own their own homes,” said David Parsons (Con), chairman of the LGA’s environment board.
“Families in council and housing association homes pay, through their electricity bills, for subsidised installation of solar panels and it is only right they get the same fair deal as everyone else. We would urge the government to go back to the drawing board and ensure that its reform of feed-in tariffs does not price the most vulnerable in society out of solar energy.”
The High Court ruled shortly before Christmas that government plans to cut payments for any solar scheme completed after 12 December - 11 days before the official consultation closed - were unlawful. The judgement followed legal challenges brought by pressure group Friends of the Earth and two solar firms, Solarcentury and HomeSun.
Today’s ruling means that, subject to any further appeal to the Supreme Court, solar tariff payments will remain at 43.3p (p/kWh) until 3 March 2012 when – following Government moves last week – they will fall to 21 pence.
Having lost in the Court of Appeal, the government will now seek permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.