UK faces threat of legal action over solar subsidy

European Commission questions impact of Government's decision to halve funding

The European Commission is threatening to take the Government to court over its controversial decision to cut solar-power subsidies by half.

The commission became the latest party to question the move publicly yesterday, revealing that it had contacted the Government as it investigates the impact of the cut.

Günther Oettinger, the EU Energy Commissioner, said: "Whenever member states revise their support for support schemes for renewable energy, they need to do so in a manner which does not destabilise the renewable-energy industry or risk undermining their plans to achieve their 2020 targets."

The Government is legally obliged to generate 15 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.

"Should the UK weaken policies in such a way that it would threaten progress towards their targets, the commission would take action, launching legal proceedings if necessary," Mr Oettinger added. He was responding to a "priority question" about the solar subsidy from Jean Lambert, Green MEP for London.

Ms Lambert said: "Under the commission's ruling, the UK is prevented from making amendments to support schemes which could jeopardise the renewables industry, yet sudden, drastic cuts to the tariff will strip away investor confidence, reduce the market for solar companies across the country and threaten jobs."

Ms Lambert will today extend her campaign against the subsidy cut from Europe to the UK, in a meeting with Caroline Lucas, MP in the Brighton Pavilion and head of the Green Party. They will draw up a plan to pressure the Government into a full impact study into the tariff cuts that would examine their effect on Britain's renewable-energy target and the economy.

Critics say Britain's fledgling solar industry will be decimated by the Government's decision in October to reduce the so-called feed-in tariff (FIT) subsidy it offers to households and small businesses for generating solar power from 43p per kWh to just 21p.

Donna Hume, the energy campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said: "Plans to slash payments for solar electricity will undermine confidence in the Government's commitment to clean energy and make it much harder to meet UK renewable-energy targets."

Howard Johns, the head of the Solar Trade Association, added that the proposed subsidy cut "had definitely destabilised the industry". The cuts threaten about 10,000 jobs in the UK solar-power industry, or around 40 per cent of the total, he said. Last week, Carillion, the construction giant, warned that the FIT changes threatened about 1,500 jobs at the company.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said: "We are committed to meeting the 15 per cent 2020 renewables target. Our Renewables Roadmap sets out that solar would have a relatively limited role in cost-effective delivery of the overall target."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Did you know? SThree is a mul...

Guru Careers: C# Project Team Lead

£55 - 65k (DOE): Guru Careers: A unique opportunity for a permanent C# Develop...

Guru Careers: Graduate Editor / Editorial Assistant

£16 - 20k: Guru Careers: A Graduate Editor / Editorial Assistant is needed to ...

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Day In a Page

Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada
Birthplace of Arab Spring in turmoil as angry Tunisians stage massive sit-in over lack of development

They shall not be moved: jobless protesters bring Tunisia to a halt

A former North African boom town is wasting away while its unemployed citizens stick steadfastly to their sit-in
David Hasselhoff's new show 'Hoff the Record': What's it like working with a superstar?

Hanging with the Hoff

Working with David Hasselhoff on his new TV series was an education for Ella Smith
Can Dubai's Design District 'hipster village' attract the right type of goatee-wearing individualist?

Hipsters of Arabia

Can Dubai’s ‘creative village’ attract the right type of goatee-wearing individualist?
The cult of Roger Federer: What is it that inspires such obsessive devotion?

The cult of Roger Federer

What is it that inspires such obsessive devotion?
Kuala Lumpur's street food: Not a 'scene', more a way of life

Malaysian munchies

With new flights, the amazing street food of Kuala Lumpur just got more accessible
10 best festival beauty

Mud guards: 10 best festival beauty

Whether you're off to the Isle of Wight, Glastonbury or a local music event, we've found the products to help you
Unai Emery’s passion for winning and eye for a bargain keep Seville centre stage in Europe

A Different League

Unai Emery’s passion for winning and eye for a bargain keep Seville centre stage in Europe, says Pete Jenson
Amir Khan and James DeGale’s remarkable Olympic performances were just the start of an extraordinary journey - Steve Bunce

Steve Bunce on Boxing

Amir Khan and James DeGale’s remarkable Olympic performances were just the start of an extraordinary journey
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf