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High Court application against UK solar incentive cuts

The UK High Court has agreed to hear applications by Friends of the Earth and solar companies Solarcentury and HomeSun for permission to challenge Government plans to slash financial incentives for solar electricity on Thursday 15 December 2011.

By Kari Williamson

Confirmation of the hearing follows an earlier High Court ruling rejecting permission for a legal challenge. The organisations are now asking the High Court to reverse the decision and allow a hearing into the legal challenges regarding solar incentive cuts as soon as possible.

Friends of the Earth is also asking the High Court to cap its potential legal costs for the case. International rules specify that costs should be limited in public interest cases on the environment.

The legal challenges centre around the plans by the UK Government to slash feed-in tariff subsidies for solar photovoltaic (PV) installations completed after 12 December this year.

The Government is currently running a consultation into feed-in tariffs - but the 12 December cut-off point comes two weeks before the consultation ends.

Friends of the Earth's Executive Director Andy Atkins, says: "We strongly believe Government plans to abruptly slash solar subsidies are illegal, we hope the High Court agrees to allow our case to be heard as soon as possible.

"We've also asked the High Court to cap our potential costs. International rules say this should be allowed in public interest cases on the environment – we can't afford to bring a challenge if we face unlimited liability for the other side's legal fees.

"In a time of economic gloom, the solar industry has been one of the UK's brightest success stories, enabling homes and communities across the country to free themselves from expensive fossil fuels.

"It's short sighted for Ministers to move the goalposts and prematurely pull the subsidy – this will cost tens of thousands of jobs, bankrupt businesses and reduce Treasury income by up to £230m a year."

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