2 Feb 2012

Industry needs to know UK government can be trusted

Caroline Lucas asks in her blog in The Guardian :"If policy can be changed retrospectively, why should business believe that the UK is a safe place to invest?"

Last month the government lost its appeal against a judge's ruling that its move to change the rates for solar feed-in tariffs before the official consultation has ended was "legally flawed". You can see my blog on this back in November when the Government started on this route. Interestingly Green County Councillor Sarah Lunnon raised the issue of tariffs at the County Council seeking support to challenge the government over this - it was dismissed despite it's direct impact on schemes within the County - the Cabinet member even saying 'no one has written to me on this issue.' Perhaps GCC Tories would consider their position a mistake now?

Well this High Court ruling is a victory for the solar industry and for renewable energy campaigners in holding the Government to account over its illegal attempt to make retrospective changes to the solar tariff. Indeed the courts have now twice ruled that these actions were unacceptable. As Caroline Lucas has said: "Investors need to know whether a government commitment to support them can be trusted, or if retrospective changes can be made at any point after investments start. A lack of trust is a huge disincentive to invest. The CBI describes the government's decision to slash subsidies for solar panels as an "own goal", stating that "moving the goalposts doesn't just destroy projects and jobs, it creates a mood of uncertainty that puts off investors.""

Extraordinarily Decc indicated that it intends to stubbornly forge ahead with its ill thought through plans - wasting time and money in the process. How much money wasted is still unknown - see here. So the solar industry remains uncertain - this is not a good message to give those seeking to invest here - if the rug can be pulled out from under an industry with no warning........ yes the tariff rates were probably too high initially but this is not the way to change them.

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