fbpx

MP inquiry slams changes to RHI payments in NI

A NEW REPORT has found that changes to the Northern Ireland RHI scheme has created a “raw deal” for its participants – and questioned the practice of “rushing through” legislation relating to the country in Westminster.

Poultry.Network has reported in the past that the changes to tariffs, introduced in April this year, would see an average subsidy for a biomass boiler going from about £13,000 to £2,200 a year – compared with an average of £5,300 a year in Great Britain.

The inquiry was held by the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee and looks solely at the changes introduced in April.

Its report says the changes were “rushed”, having been introduced after just one days’ debate in parliament, and urges the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland to revisit the tariffs “as soon as possible”.

MPs found that the new tariffs were based on “unrealistically low costing” resulting in unfair payments to NI participants. They did not account for the cost of servicing or repairs of biomass boilers.

And that a buy-out scheme was not applicable to enough participants, and there was no right to challenge any valuation offered.

RHI participants in Northern Ireland are now facing a raw deal with some payments worth half as much, or more, as in Great Britain or the Republic of Ireland.

Committee chair Simon Hoare MP said: “Difficulties with RHI have already risked losing public confidence in state-backed schemes, and the Department must address these errors.

“We also want to see an end to Northern Ireland legislation being rushed through Westminster without time for essential scrutiny.”

Avril Robson, is a partner in Glenhoy Farms, which has two broiler units producing birds for Moy Park.

In evidence offered to the committee, she said: “I have protected my business through turbulent years of the Troubles in Northern Ireland and numerous recessions – the most recent one in 2007, only to observe a “Government-backed,” “Grandfathered scheme” seem set to destroy it.

“This is heart-breaking; I sit in a state of disbelief of what has unfolded in front of me.

Words cannot describe my anguish despair and downright blatant attempt by DfE, assisted by our British government destroying the livelihoods of many hard-working honest business people through no fault of their own.”