THOUSANDS of North-East energy jobs could be saved after Government plans to cut solar panel subsidies were ruled legally flawed by the High Court.

Business leaders in the region last night urged the Government to shelve its controversial plan to halve the so-called feed in tariffs for households that installed solar.

"I want to be in a position where I can send my staff home for Christmas knowing they have a job to come back to," said Terry Skee, commercial director of Cleaner Air Solutions (CAS), based in Meadowfield, Durham City who wants the Government to bring stability back to the industry.

The subsidy cut provoked a storm of protest when they were announced last month.

The North-East Renewables Alliance (Nera), a consortium of small renewable energy installers, warned that job losses were inevitable. And Carillion Energy Services, which employs about 1,000 in renewable energy work in Newcastle, has told 4,500 staff they were at risk of redundancy after the Government decision.

A staggering nine out of ten installations could be prevented from from going ahead, two reports concluded.

And the Government's decision was criticised by the Local Government Association, which warned it would cost councils who had attempted to roll out the technology to poorer households hundreds of millions of pounds.

Under the feed-in tariffs programme, people with solar panels are paid for the electricity they generate.

The controversy followed the decision to slash the subsidy from 43.3p per kilowatt hour of electricity produced to 21p per kWh, from April 2012.

However, installations had to be completed and registered by December 12 in order to receive the higher 43.3p rate for the full 25 years contract. The Government had said the subsidy cut would ensure the scheme carried on in the future but installers said the move had been premature.

Environmental charity Friends of the Earth and two solar companies - backed by installers across the North-East - went to court to test whether the proposals were lawful.

Yesterdays ruling has offered the installers, and their customers, hope that the tariff reduction will be reversed. However, the Government has said it would defend a challenge at judicial review.

"The last couple of months have been bedlam as we have been working flat out to complete orders in time to meet the December 12 deadline,"

explained Mr Skee who wants to see the lower tariff in place until April 2012.

"The legal costs of this case will be picked up by the taxpayer so that has blown the Governments original argument that the tariff cut would save the public purse. They now need to bite the bullet and back an industry which is creating jobs and contributing to the economic recovery."