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Don’t jeopardise FITs’ future
Although the FITs Judicial Review was widely reported as a victory for the UK solar industry, the Renewable Energy Association (REA) and its members are concerned about the implications of the on-going legal battle, both for solar and the other technologies covered by the Feed-in Tariff.

While the REA condemned DECC’s poor handling of the FIT Review, it has urged all parties involved to recognise that the priority has to be securing the future of the industry for the remainder of this Parliament – and for this to happen, the tariff has to come down and more budget must be secured.

The organisation said that most companies responding to REA’s request for feedback supported this view. The REA had already called for a 25% reduction in tariffs in response to a DECC consultation in May last year.

Gaynor Hartnell, chief executive of the REA said: “DECC deserved to be reprimanded for its handling of the FIT Review. The fall in PV costs has taken us all by surprise, but had DECC lowered tariffs sooner and in a controlled manner as we had suggested, there would have been less uncertainty and chaos.

“The priority for REA is securing the industry over the next three years. The ongoing legal battle, and the risk of further exceeding an already committed budget, makes this far more challenging. We need to be thinking beyond April if we want to secure this industry’s future.”

The REA has written today to Secretary of State Chris Huhne requesting an urgent meeting, as it seeks assurance that the legal battle will not be allowed to jeopardise the long-term future of the FIT scheme. The REA suggests in its letter that pulling the scheme into general taxation could provide a helpful solution.

On 4th January DECC challenged the judge’s decision, and today (Friday 13th January) the judge will decide whether to allow an appeal. The full hearing, if permitted, should take place the same day. Whichever side loses at that hearing could take a further appeal to the Supreme Court.

DECC intends to make an announcement about the future of the FITs scheme, including final proposals on PV and consultation proposals on non-PV tariffs, after the conclusion of the appeals process.

Gaynor Hartnell added: “The Feed-in Tariff also covers biogas, hydro and small-scale wind. It is irresponsible of DECC to allow money to haemorrhage out of the pot into just one technology, because its tariff levels are excessive.

“We support solar power because it is a technology that can be installed at the point of use and its costs are falling dramatically. A roll out of this technology is beneficial to the UK economy – but not if we pay through the nose for it. It is funded by electricity consumers – many of whom have little money to spare. On equity grounds it is essential that tariffs keep pace with falling costs. If this cannot be done then it should be funded by general taxation – there is a strong case for this given the huge Treasury revenues from the FIT scheme, as well as major employment benefits.”