March cut-off date to resolve uncertainty over solar feed-in tariffs?

Planning, PV, Renewables, Solar

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Secretary of State Chris Huhne has this afternoon tabled a Written Ministerial Statement in parliament detailing the government’s plans to push forward cuts in the Feed in tariff for solar PV schemes. Following the High Court ruling last month that the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s (DECC) proposal to reduce payments for solar schemes completed after 12 December was unlawful ( it was implemented 11 days before a consultation into the proposals), the Court of Appeal failed to resolve DECC’s case to overturn that verdict when it sat last Friday,

Today’s ministerial Statement acknowledges that the courts failure to resolve the issue has left enormous uncertainty in the market for solar PV and, by association, in the wider renewable energy sector.   The Secretary of State proposes to deal with this, and limit risks to the scheme’s budget in the event that the government’s appeal proves unsuccessful (i.e. the Court orders a return to the previous feed-in tariff level of 43p/kWh), by laying draft licence modifications before Parliament that would allow tariffs to be cut from April 1 for all installations completed on or after March 3 2012.

This measure effectively brings forward the date at which the cuts to the FiT, that were already anticipated to come into effect on 1 April, in line with previous announcements on the a phased degression of the tariff, to 3 March, even if the Government loses it’s appeal.  If it wins, the tariff reduction will be backdated to 12 December 2011 when the FiT rate for the smallest solar installations were cut from 43.3p to 21p per kilowatt-hour.

Huhne commented “If the court finds in favour of the government’s appeal, we intend to stand by all our consultation proposals, including an earlier (December) reference date, subject to the Parliamentary procedure and consideration of consultation responses.”

If you would like advice on how this can affect your solar pv planning application, please contact our Principal Environmental Planner, Bernice Roberts at: bernice.roberts@thelandmarkpractice.com.