Solar ruling welcomed by business boss

Jim Gillespie from 1st 4 Solar. Picture by FRANNK REID
Jim Gillespie from 1st 4 Solar. Picture by FRANNK REID

A BUSINESSMAN has welcomed the “fantastic” High Court ruling that the Government could not cut solar panel subsidies.

The Court of Appeal yesterday rejected Energy Secretary Chris Huhne’s claim that he had the power to go ahead with a controversial scheme to cut subsidies for solar panels on homes.

Opponents feared that if Mr Huhne’s proposals had been approved, then 29,000 jobs in the solar industry would be at risk.

But three appeal judges decided otherwise and Hartlepool entrepreneur Jim Gillespie – who runs town-based firm 1st 4 Solar – said the decision was “the best possible news I could wish for”.

He claimed companies which specialised in supplying solar panels had already gone to the wall and many people had stalled from investing in solar until the legal proceedings had been resolved.

Mr Gillespie, who is the national sales director for 1st 4 Solar, which specialises in photovoltaic solar systems, added: “We are going to be innundated with enquiries now.”

Mr Huhne had wanted to reduce feed-in tariff subsidies (FITs) – payments made to households and communities that generate green electricity through solar panels – on any installations completed after December 12 last year.

High Court judge Mr Justice Mitting ruled that it would be unlawful to implement plans to approve the cuts in April this year by referring back to the December 12 deadline.

The deadline fell 11 days before the end of a consultation period on the proposals.

Lawyers for Mr Huhne argued before three appeal judges that Mr Justice Mitting had gone wrong in law and the Secretary of State possessed the necessary power to go ahead with his plan.

But Lord Justice Lloyd, Lord Justice Moses and Lord Justice Richards yesterday disagreed.

Lord Justice Moses ruled Parliament had not conferred on Mr Huhne “a power to make a modification in tariff rates with such a retrospective effect”.

Mr Gillespie said: “A lot of redundancies have already happened but we are electrical contractors and we were able to re-deploy our people on jobs such as re-wiring contracts.”