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View blog posts for category: Solar electricity

Loyalty card scheme aims to boost take up of energy saving measures

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 19 October 2012 at 9:14 am

Loyalty card scheme aims to boost take up of energy saving measures

Loyalty cards have been around for ages. Most airlines and supermarkets have them. But so far, they haven't played much of a part in the energy market. This is all set to change with the launch of the National Energy Card which will be piloted with solar PV, and is due to start in November this year…

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How to keep your solar panels clean

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 18 October 2012 at 9:01 am

How to keep your solar panels clean

We're often asked whether you should clean your solar panels so I was interested to see two very different methods of keeping them in tip top generating condition at the Solar Power UK exhibition last week. Anything that blocks the light transmission to your solar PV (or thermal) panels …

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Storage system for domestic solar electricity launched

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 October 2012 at 9:48 am

Storage system for domestic solar electricity launched

With a large discrepancy between the cost of buying and selling electricity, the owners of domestic solar PV systems are always asking how they can use more of it on site. So it was exciting to speak with the inventors of the first fully integrated storage system for domestic Solar PV at Solar Po…

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Conservation officer asks home owner to remove solar panels

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 15 October 2012 at 10:16 am

Conservation officer asks home owner to remove solar panels

Solar PV is a permitted development, however that doesn't stop problems with planning cropping up. Individual councils are left to interpret the rules as they see fit.  We have just heard of a recent example in Dacorum Borough Council in Hertfordshire. A YouGen reader had a 3kw system instal…

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How solar energy has evolved

Posted by Paul Hutchens on 8 October 2012 at 9:26 am

How solar energy has evolved

Solar energy is a remarkable yet simple concept. Thanks to solar panels, you can use sunlight to create electricity for your home or business. The technology behind this has evolved dramatically in the past few decades, but you might be surprised to know the history of solar power goes back thousa…

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Solar panels make your house more attractive to buyers

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 4 October 2012 at 6:52 pm

Solar panels make your house more attractive to buyers

Solar panels are one of the most desirable 'deal-sealers' for people buying a new house according to new research. Logic says that solar panels should add value to a property, especially as most installations currently come with 20 or more years of feed-in tariff income attached. However, research o…

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Solar PV: still an attractive investment

Posted by John Ditchfield on 27 September 2012 at 11:30 am

Solar PV: still an attractive investment

In these challenging times for investors, diversity is king. With interest rates low, getting a guaranteed index linked income long term is attractive. So how do solar photovoltaic panels (PV) fit the bill? The Feed in Tariff (or FIT) has been around for a couple of years as an in…

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Lightning strikes and solar PV

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 17 September 2012 at 9:36 am

Lightning strikes and solar PV

YouGen reader Alan Drever lives on the south west coast of Isle of Skye. This part of Scotland has a higher than average lightning incidence, so when considering installation of a solar PV system it was something he wanted to take into consideration. The risk of lightning strike is not just theor…

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Installers may not be doing adequate solar PV tests

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 14 September 2012 at 12:31 pm

Installers may not be doing adequate solar PV tests

Shocking results of a recent survey suggest that many MCS Solar PV installers may not be doing key PV array tests. Writing in his blog on Solar Power Portal  yesterday, Sundog Energy founder Martin Cotterell said: "Every PV installer accredited under MCS should know how to test a completed PV s…

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Solar PV or solar thermal: which is best for heating water?

Posted by Paul Hutchens on 6 September 2012 at 9:46 am

Solar PV or solar thermal: which is best for heating water?

When I started Eco2Solar in 2007 it was clear where the growth area was in the market. Fuelled by rising energy prices, increased awareness of climate change and fuel security, as well as new targets such as Code for Sustainable Homes or Merton Rule (10% of energy from renewables) for new build …

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Readers tips of the month - August

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 31 August 2012 at 3:28 pm

Readers tips of the month - August

Claire Tindel, who has installed solar PV, says "put your dishwasher and washing machine on in the middle of the day" (it's probably best to run them one after the other, rather than together unless you've got a large system, and the sun's shining stronly). Mike Beale is a 71 year old enthusiasti…

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Specialist energy companies give best feed-in tariff service; E.on gives worst

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 30 August 2012 at 2:16 pm

Specialist energy companies give best feed-in tariff service; E.on gives worst

Questions and complaints about energy companies and how the service they deliver to feed-in tariff (FIT) customers regularly pop up in our inbox and in comments on blogs. When people get solar panels, or other microgeneration technology, they often just sign up with their existing supplier. But o…

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I'm getting solar panels: should I switch electricity supplier?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 30 August 2012 at 11:38 am

I'm getting solar panels: should I switch electricity supplier?

Q: Dear Cathy - From the customer side of things, I will have a brand new 4KW PV system shortly and am currently on a Scottish Power May 2013 fixed electricity only deal (with Econ7)  - no standing charge - with staged day rate tariff of first 225 kwh used each quarter @23.319p with r…

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How to use excess solar electricity for water heating

Posted by Stuart Houghton on 28 August 2012 at 2:02 pm

How to use excess solar electricity for water heating

I am asked again and again how to maximise the use of the generated electricity of my customers' solar PV systems. Apart from using your large appliances when the sun is shining bright, the largest benefit would be using the excess electricity to power your immersion heater. Un…

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The five most common solar misconceptions I experience as a solar surveyor

Posted by Gabriel Wondrausch on 17 August 2012 at 10:01 am

The five most common solar misconceptions I experience as a solar surveyor

Working in the renewable industry can be a challenging experience, particularly over the past six months or so with the confusion surrounding the feed-in tariff. Now the uncertainty has been resolved, it appears the industry is on the up. However, there are a number of misconceptions abou…

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Can I connect solar PV to my storage heaters?

Posted by Chris Rudge on 16 August 2012 at 8:37 am

Can I connect solar PV to my storage heaters?

Q: Can I connect my solar power to my storage heaters, and what are the pros and cons? A: I would strongly advise that unless you have a large (10kwP) solar PV system, having a diversion unit installed to re-direct excess power to a storage heater during the day will not be economic, ma…

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Can I get an EPC for my solar installation before I finish my renovation?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 10 August 2012 at 8:47 am

Can I get an EPC for my solar installation before I finish my renovation?

Q: I am carrying out a substantial renovation of our new family home. Prior to starting it  had a EPC (energy performance certificate) grade F. I have installed Solar but was not told of the rules on EPC for the feed-in tariff, nor did the survey etc pick it up prior to installation. It ha…

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EPC software seems unable to handle eco improvements

Posted by Martin Hodnett on 2 August 2012 at 10:44 am

EPC software seems unable to handle eco improvements

Recently, we had to get an energy performance certificate (EPC) done to qualify for the feed-in tariff (FiT) for solar panels. We live in an old Devon longhouse constructed of cob. An Esse wood burning range cooker, a solar thermal panel system, and an oil-fired boiler (as backup for very cold we…

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Feed-in tariff rates for solar PV reduce today - but still offer good value

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 1 August 2012 at 9:29 am

Feed-in tariff rates for solar PV reduce today - but still offer good value

The feed-in tariff rates for solar PV fall today. This is part of a planned degression, which aims to keep the rate of return more or less the same, as prices within the industry fall. For installations from today the rates will be: 4kW or less: 16p per kWh (6.3% return on investment) …

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Check to make sure that your solar panels are mounted correctly

Posted by Stuart Houghton on 26 July 2012 at 9:06 am

Check to make sure that your solar panels are mounted correctly

As we recently completed a solar PV installation, the customer watched intently as we measured and set up the rails to mount the solar modules on. As always we took our time to get all the measurements right and doubled checked before the first bracket was installed. "Surely the spacing of the r…

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It's a bit of a sun trap: installing a 10kW domestic solar PV system

Posted by Andy Barrowcliffe on 25 July 2012 at 9:54 am

It's a bit of a sun trap: installing a 10kW domestic solar PV system

Last summer, I was having a BBQ in my back garden when one of the guests commented that the garden was a 'bit of a sun trap'. I knew this already from time spent outside, but it triggered a thought about installing solar PV.   I had recently picked up an electric car as part of a 12 …

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Feed-in tariff changes give hope for community energy projects

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 23 July 2012 at 2:48 pm

Feed-in tariff changes give hope for community energy projects

Community energy schemes should find it easier to get off the ground as the government has removed some of the barriers that they faced. Changes to the feed-in tariff scheme following the 2B consultation where announced on Friday, and will come into force from 1 December 2012. Key to the changes …

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Can I take my solar panels with me when I move and still get FITs?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 23 July 2012 at 9:59 am

Can I take my solar panels with me when I move and still get FITs?

Q: What happens if you have PV installed on your house and you move, and take the PV with you and reinstall it on your new house: do you continue to receive your original feed-in tariff rate? A: I'm afraid not. Worse that that, you don't get any feed-in tariff at all. If you reinstall your solar …

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What happens to the feed-in tariff when you sell your house

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 3 July 2012 at 9:08 am

What happens to the feed-in tariff when you sell your house

I recently spoke to someone who installed solar PV when the feed-in tariff rate was 43p per kWh for small systems. They had been told by an EDF customer service person that when they sold their house, the new owner would have a new contract with EDF and wouldn't be eligible for the same tariff level…

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Wattson Solar Plus brings electricity use and generation to life

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 25 June 2012 at 9:36 am

Wattson Solar Plus brings electricity use and generation to life

Earlier this year I wrote about how the Wattson* Solar Plus energy monitor helps me make the most of my solar generated electricity by letting me know when I'm generating more electricity than I'm using. I just have to look over, see if it's glowing green, and if so I turn on the washing machine. Re…

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Why is solar PV marketed on efficiency, not yield?

Posted by Ian Smith on 14 June 2012 at 11:06 am

Why is solar PV marketed on efficiency, not yield?

I was struck going round Ecobuild in March, not just by the sheer number of exhibitors of PV panels, but by their marketing.  The vast majority were prominently promoting the efficiency of their cells or panels but very few were promoting energy yield at all - and none that I could see for …

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Permitted development rules for non-domestic solar are open to interpretation

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 June 2012 at 3:15 pm

Permitted development rules for non-domestic solar are open to interpretation

Q: The wording of the permitted development legislation for non-domestic solar installations 2012, No 748, paragraph 43. A1 (c ) says that development is not permitted if: the solar PV or solar thermal equipment would be installed on a roof and within 1m of the external edge of that roof. It's not …

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My electricity meter is running backwards: who is responsible?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 6 June 2012 at 10:05 am

My electricity meter is running backwards: who is responsible?

Q: My solar PV clients are seeing their electricity meters running backward now that the days are longer, and they are unsure how they should treat this with their electricity supplier now that they have become aware. My understanding is that the supplier remains responsible for accurately m…

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The impact of the new feed-in tariff rates for small scale solar PV

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 24 May 2012 at 1:09 pm

The impact of the new feed-in tariff rates for small scale solar PV

Feed-in tariff rates for solar PV installations of 4kW or less will fall from 21p to 16p per kWh from 1 August 2012. This was just one of the changes announced by energy minister Greg Barker in the House of Commons today. He also announced that from 1 August the export rate will increase from 3.…

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Readers' renewable energy tips of the month

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 24 May 2012 at 12:02 pm

Readers' renewable energy tips of the month

We love reading your stories and tips of what works (and doesn't work) for you. Here are this month's favourites: Where you site your air source heat pump is important, as this succinct message from Lizlaw confirms: "Our heat pump warms the house and water consistently, reliably and saves us m…

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How free solar panels can affect your mortgage

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 24 May 2012 at 9:07 am

How free solar panels can affect your mortgage

Q: Will installing solar panels impact on my mortgage? A: Recently the Guardian published an article about a couple that had been refused a mortgage by a number of lenders as they had installed "free" solar panels on their roof, through a "rent-a-roof" scheme. This couple thought they had don…

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Buyer beware: don't believe everything a cold caller tells you about solar PV!

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 18 May 2012 at 10:10 am

Buyer beware: don't believe everything a cold caller tells you about solar PV!

Do you know what the difference is between daylight and sunlight? Is there one? I was under the impression that we only have daylight thanks to the sun. Not according to a solar PV salesman who rang me recently. I'm on the telephone preference service, so I don't get many unsolicited phone calls.…

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Solar PV remains one of the best investments around say trade bodies

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 May 2012 at 8:40 am

Solar PV remains one of the best investments around say trade bodies

Thanks to drastically falling costs, solar PV remains one of the best investments around, according to the four trade bodies which represent the British solar industry. They have joined together to debunk the myth that it is no longer attractive. The reasons they give for that claim is that it shiel…

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Rumours of solar PVs death have been greatly exaggerated

Posted by Paul Hutchens on 2 May 2012 at 9:26 am

Rumours of solar PVs death have been greatly exaggerated

Like many people, I have noticed the drop in installations of solar PV since the introduction of energy efficiency (EPC) requirements on April 1 this year. With DECC publishing weekly data on the feed-in tariff scheme’s capacity, I am not alone. It has been suggested in the press and by some in…

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The feed-in tariff is still alive & paying out - so why do so many people believe it's finished?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 25 April 2012 at 11:42 am

The feed-in tariff is still alive & paying out - so why do so many people believe it's finished?

The phones have stopped ringing for many solar PV companies, and my totally unscientific research indicates that the constant changes and media coverage of it are to blame for a widespread belief that the feed-in tariff is no longer available for solar PV. This couldn't be further from the tr…

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The feed-in tariff still offers good rates of return - so why have solar PV installations dried up?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 24 April 2012 at 11:02 am

The feed-in tariff still offers good rates of return - so why have solar PV installations dried up?

Since the beginning of April solar PV installations have fallen off a cliff. The only time they have been lower over the past 15 months was after the Christmas 2011 feed-in tariff deadline. In this time five companies have resigned their YouGen membership - two going into liquidation, one ceased …

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New feed-in tariff rate from July "probably won't be 13p"

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 18 April 2012 at 3:15 pm

New feed-in tariff rate from July "probably won't be 13p"

"We have probably overestimated" the cost reductions for solar PV going forward, admitted head of the feed-in tariff review at DECC, Rachel Solomon-Williams, yesterday. Speaking at RegenSW's event on the current feed-in tariff consultations, she also gave a ray hope for feed-in tariff (FIT…

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Help: I'm getting conflicting advice about split aspect solar PV and inverters

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 10 April 2012 at 9:01 am

Help: I'm getting conflicting advice about split aspect solar PV and inverters

Q: I have had 3 consultants for solar PV and now I am confused. I already have a 2kW system, and wanted to get another 3kW installed. One company said they could not do it, the next said I would get rid of my bill and was going to do split aspects on one inverter. The third one said that I couldn't …

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Feed-in tariff eligibility dates: make sure you get your application in on time

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 5 April 2012 at 9:01 am

Feed-in tariff eligibility dates: make sure you get your application in on time

Q: The Guardian recently reported that 30,735 homeowners and businesses who installed solar panels after a 12 December cut-off date and before 3 March will now be eligible for the previous, higher feed-in tariff (Fit) of 43p per kWh of energy generated. I hoped and expected that the Government w…

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Accuracy of predicted solar PV generation set to increase

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 2 April 2012 at 9:09 am

Accuracy of predicted solar PV generation set to increase

The amount of sunshine in Sheffield is currently used as the basis for all predictions of solar generation, where ever you live. This means that people in the south are likely to be delighted when their new system produces more electricity than promised. The outcome isn't so good for people in north…

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How do I ensure the solar PV for our new build gets 21p FITS rate?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 29 March 2012 at 1:13 pm

How do I ensure the solar PV for our new build gets 21p FITS rate?

Q: We are at the start of a new build in Buxton Derbyshire. The foundations are in place and the walls start to go up at the end of April with a completion date of mid July for the build (excluding the internal fitting out of kitchen, bathroom etc). When would we need to have a solar PV system commi…

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When is an EPC not required for solar PV feed-in tariffs

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 27 March 2012 at 2:38 pm

When is an EPC not required for solar PV feed-in tariffs

The new energy efficiency requirement for the feed-in tariff (FiTs) for solar PV kicks in on 1 April 2012. This means that the full FITs rate is only available for buildings which have an Energy Performance Certificate of band D or above. This is currently a bit less than half the UK housing stoc…

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What the EPC requirement means for people who want to install solar PV

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 19 March 2012 at 10:14 am

What the EPC requirement means for people who want to install solar PV

To claim the top rate of feed-in tariff from 1 April 2012 all buildings to which solar PV panels are mounted or wired must have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) of at least band D. As the average house in England and Wales doesn't quite make it into band D, this means that many people …

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Just two weeks for owners of energy-guzzling buildings to claim the top rate of feed-in tariff

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 March 2012 at 3:28 pm

Just two weeks for owners of energy-guzzling buildings to claim the top rate of feed-in tariff

Solar PV installations will only be eligible for the full feed-in tariff from 1 April if the building they are mounted on, or wired to, have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) of at least band D. This leaves a brief window of opportunity for the owners of old, drafty buildings to get in before …

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Six things to put in your response to the feed-in tariff consultation

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 March 2012 at 12:39 pm

Six things to put in your response to the feed-in tariff consultation

Government will take note this time, so make sure you respond to the current consultations on the future of the feed-in tariff, says Solar Trade Association PV specialist Ray Noble. "Because they already had an overspent budget to defend, they didn't take notice of last October's consultation," …

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Standalone solar PV defined for feed-in tariffs

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 March 2012 at 9:16 am

Standalone solar PV defined for feed-in tariffs

There's quite a lot of confusion over what "standalone" means in the context of a solar PV system applying for the feed-in tariff.  Understanding the difference between standalone and on-site renewables is important as it makes quite a difference to the rate of generation tariff you get fro…

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Response to feed-in consultation will make a real difference

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 7 March 2012 at 11:33 am

Response to feed-in consultation will make a real difference

"This is a genuine consultation," says Alex Weir, senior policy advisor, feed-in tariff review, DECC. "We are really interested to know what the costs [of installing solar PV] are and how they are changing. It is in everyone's interests that costs and tariffs come down together." Speaking at the …

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Can I use solar PV to heat my water?

Posted by Paul Hutchens on 5 March 2012 at 9:18 am

Can I use solar PV to heat my water?

Q. Can you tell me what size PV panel would be required to run a standard domestic immersion heater?. I am not interested in returning power to the grid and want to dedicate the output from the panel to the immersion heater in my hot water thermal store. A. A standard immersion heater is …

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Campaign to root out cowboy solar installers launched today

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 3 March 2012 at 1:03 am

Campaign to root out cowboy solar installers launched today

A campaign is launched today to help people to avoid “unscrupulous” installers of solar panels and other renewable technologies seeking to cash in on confusion surrounding the Government’s feed-in-tariff and other incentives. We have developed the campaign as a result of stories we've heard…

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DECC appeal to Supreme Court extends uncertainty

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 24 February 2012 at 9:47 am

DECC appeal to Supreme Court extends uncertainty

The confusion over feed-in tariffs continues, as the Government applied to the Supreme Court for leave to appeal against the High Court's decision on Tuesday. A DECC (department of energy and climate change) spokesperson said: "We respectfully disagree with the Court of Appeal’s decision on fee…

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