Why were the tariff cuts unfair?
Friends of the Earth, Solar Century and Homesun took the government to court over the tariff cuts introduced on 12th December. These have now been declared unlawful. Greg Barker, Minister for Climate Change, will seek to appeal against this judgement in the Court of Appeal after being refused a right of appeal in the High Court because his 'prospects of success' were insufficient.
It all stems from the rather ludicrous proposition laid down by the goverment that the tariff cut would be from the 12th December, some 11 days before the end of the consultation period on the 23rd December.
Solar's pyrrhic victory
It may be that the government will lose this particular battle and that is right. Government's cannot act unlawfully. The legal profession is designed to protect its citizens in this way. However, it is unlikely that the solar industry will win the war in keeping a tariff rate that will sustain the industry. In some respects the government have won anyway because much of the funding that had been there to maintain the growth in installations has disappeared. There are few finance houses who will relish the prospect of reopening their doors prior to 5th April, given the uncertainty which continues to prevail.
Political arrogance has been put in its place
But irrespective of the end result, let's just bask in the glory of what has just happened. The way that the government has behaved over the solar tariff issue shows them up to be arrogant, naive and frankly stupid. They could so easily have dodged this High Court ruling with a bit of common sense at outset. Whatever happens in the future it is nice that a High Court Judge called them to account for it today. Politicians need to have more respect for those they govern and they need to keep learning that they cannot just do anything they please.