Any changes to RHI scheme must achieve ‘fairness and balance’, says DUP

Any changes to RHI tarrifs must achieve “fairness and balance” for both taxpayers and RHI boiler owners, the DUP has said.

Tuesday, 5th March 2019, 11:43 am
Updated Tuesday, 5th March 2019, 1:05 pm

The party spoke out after North Antrim MP Ian Paisley described proposals to slash tarrifs paid to those in the scandal-hit Renewable Heat Incentive scheme as “grossly unfair” and pledged to lobby the government on behalf of participants in Northern Ireland.

A group which represents members of the non-domestic RHI scheme has said plans to cut the potential payment for a 99kw biomass boiler by 96% would have serious financial implications for many Northern Ireland farm businesses, particularly poultry farmers.

According to a report in the Belfast Telegraph, Mr Paisley said many RHI owners feel that they have been “taken advantage of”.

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Ian Paisley Jnr. Pic: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

“I certainly believe that the current regime as outlined and the current proposals in Parliament are grossly unfair,” he said.

“The government has a responsibility to listen carefully to the points that are being made.

“My view is that these proposals to cut the tariffs have been bounced on them and bounced on everyone. The cut is incredibly severe, not in line with what has happened in the Republic of Ireland or in the rest of the UK.

“Why should Northern Ireland people, because of the history of RHI, be treated differently from how the RHI works elsewhere?”

The DUP has been widely criticised for its role in the botched ‘cash for ash’ scheme, which could have a potential overspend of hundreds of millions of pounds.

Outlining their official position on the proposed cuts, a party spokesperson said: “The proposals to cut tariffs are the work of the Department for the Economy. We were given very late notice of the plan to legislate for these reductions.

“We have sought information as to why the cut is not in line with what is happening in Great Britain, particularly given State Aid rules apply across the UK.

“Our Party are engaged in meetings to ascertain the current factual situation.

“It is important that the facts of the situation are established and that fairness and balance is achieved for both the taxpayer and those in the RHI scheme who have genuinely observed the scheme criteria.”