A judicial review is to be heard Tuesday and Wednesday in the UK's High Court on government plans to cut feed-in tariffs for solar photovoltaic electricity, the court's cause list shows Tuesday.
Even though the proposals are still in consultation, the tariff cuts took effect from December 12 such is the urgency that the government attaches to stemming the flood of installations.
Environmental group Friends of the Earth and two solar companies, Solarcentury and HomeSun, are seeking a ruling that the proposals are unlawful, will strangle the fledgling industry and cost thousands of jobs.
High Court judge Mr Justice Mitting said the proposals had given rise to "economic risk" for those engaged in the solar industry and the challenge should be heard as a matter of urgency, Solarcentury said last Thursday. Solarcentury company secretary John Faulks said the challenge was "only the first step of the legal challenge.
"The Court agrees that we have a case to argue and has given us permission to challenge DECC [the Department of Energy and Climate Change]. Next we need to persuade the Court that DECC has acted illegally," he said.
While the solar PV industry had been expecting a cut in tariff "and would have actively engaged with DECC to create a sustainable scheme", Faulks said that applying such deep cuts before the end of a consultation period was "irrational".
In February this year the government announced the first comprehensive review of the feed-in tariffs scheme for small-scale low-carbon electricity generation.
Phase One of the review looked at small-scale solar PV, with an eight-week consultation running to December 23, 2011. The proposals introduce a new tariff for schemes up to 4 kW in size of 21p/kWh (33 US cents/kWh), down from 43.3p/kWh. Reduced rates are also proposed for schemes between 4 kW and 250 kW.