March 23 (Bloomberg) -- A U.K. government appeal to bring forward solar-power subsidy cuts was refused by the Supreme Court, which upheld two previous rulings that early tariff changes would be unlawful.
The court withheld permission for Energy Secretary of State Edward Davey to appeal a Jan. 25 Court of Appeal ruling, it said today in an e-mailed statement. That ruling prevented cuts in so-called feed-in tariffs, or premium rates paid for solar power, before a consultation on the matter was completed.
The government has sought to rein in a boom in solar-panel installations following a slump in the price of photovoltaic panels. Today’s decision means the government can only reduce rates for small-scale solar-power projects from March 3, not Dec. 12 as it intended. Projects completed thereafter will be subject to a tariff cut of as much as 55 percent from April.
The government in December lost a case against Solarcentury Holdings Ltd., HomeSun Ltd. and environmental group Friends of the Earth after seeking to impose subsidy cuts for small-scale solar plants almost four months ahead of schedule. After losing an appeal in January, the government said it would bring in the reductions on March 3 if it failed to overturn the rulings.
“For the first time in four months, the U.K. solar industry can look forward and plan for the future without this underlying uncertainty,” Alan John, head of renewable energy at law firm Osborne Clarke, said in a statement. “Most in the industry will want to put the last few damaging months behind them.”
The Supreme Court said it refused the application because it didn’t “raise an arguable point of law of general public importance.”
The refusal is a “landmark decision which will prevent ministers causing industry chaos with similar subsidy cuts in future,” Friends of the Earth said today in an e-mailed statement.
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