U.K. High Court Rules Solar Subsidy Cut Plans ‘Unlawful’

The U.K. High Court ruled that a government plan to cut subsidies for solar energy starting Dec. 12 was “unlawful,” suggesting incentives for the industry will be restricted later than currently proposed.

Justice Mitting said the Department of Energy & Climate Change made an “unlawful decision” in ordering the feed-in tariff for solar power cut starting Dec. 12, before a consultation with industry about the plan was finished.

Companies including Solarcentury and lobby groups such as Friends of the Earth challenged the government plan, saying it puts at risk 4,500 jobs and the future of the U.K. solar industry.

“This is a great victory,” Howard Johns, head of the Solar Trade Association, said at the court in London after the decision was handed down. “It’s very unusual for a judicial review to go against the government. The uncertainty is still here, but it gives us hope.”

David Cameron’s Conservative government and the Labour opposition both agreed that subsidies for the industry had to be cut to keep a boom in solar installations from driving up electricity bills.

Energy Secretary Chris Huhne in October proposed cuts of as much as 55 percent beginning Dec. 12. A consultation about the changes ends later this month.

The government has until Jan. 4 to appeal today’s decision, though the judge said it’s unlikely there would be grounds to make a challenge successful.

To contact the reporter on this story: Marc Roca in London at mroca6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at landberg@bloomberg.net

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