Heat generators threaten legal action over RHI cash clawback

Wood pellets of the type used in the RHI scheme
Wood pellets of the type used in the RHI scheme

A body representing a number of renewable heating businesses has urged Stormont’s MLAs not to reduce payments under the RHI scheme.

The Renewable Heat Association (RHA) for Northern Ireland has also said it will consider legal action if a reasonable solution to the potential £490 million overspend on RHI is not found.

Economy Minister Simon Hamilton has produced amended legislation in an effort to reduce the tariffs paid to around 1,800 people who joined the scheme before November 2015, but the proposals require MLAs’ approval.

In a letter to all 108 MLAs, RHA spokesman Michael Doran said: “We are aware, that it is likely, that there will be a vote in the Assembly, on Monday, in relation to legislation which will have the effect of reducing tariffs which will result in breaches of the contracts entered into by participants in the scheme.

“While this may be appropriate for some operators, who do not have a need for heat delivered over many hours throughout the year, it will not be appropriate for others.”

To date, only a small percentage of RHI installations have been audited to check if the boilers are being used to generate unnecessary heat as a money-making venture.

Mr Doran’s letter adds: “Many business owners have invested significant amounts of money, in many cases over £1 million into the local economy, by investing in these technologies and further infrastructure based on the guaranteed, grandfathered tariff available. Much of that investment has been in the form of loans which they will not be able to renegotiate.”