RHI scandal: group complains of ‘inflammatory’ reporting

Wood pellets
Wood pellets

A legal letter has been issued on behalf of a group of people claiming under the grossly-mismanaged Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme.

It was sent by TLT Solicitors to the Department of the Economy on Monday morning.

The letter states that it wants to “put you on notice of our interest in this matter”.

It complains that the public perception of the scheme has been coloured by what its clients view as “often inaccurate and inflammatory media reporting”.

The department had earlier written to RHI recipients, saying that it wanted their permission to name them.

The letter said the group “do not consent to their details being published”, and requests that the department makes clear what its intentions are regarding making names public.

It goes on to say that the people whom TLT is representing are “concerned” that “steps may be taken by the Executive to alter/amend or in some other way review the scheme”.

It said amending the scheme retroactively would be “entirely without precedent”, and is “likely to be unlawful”.

Regarding the legislation set before the Assembly on Monday regarding the attempts to curb the cost of the RHI scheme, it said: “This legislation is likely to result in significant legal challenge given the impact on participants.

“Rather than seeking to pass this legislation, the participants suggest that the Executive engage with them through the various representatives.

“The participants who have asked us to write to you are deeply concerned that they are being asked to bear the brunt of the costs of (i) budgetary miscalculations of the department, and (ii) inflated costs caused by potentially fraudulent operators.”

The letter is sub-headed “Re: non domestic renewable heating incentive scheme”.

The non domestic side of the scheme is by far the most costly part, accounting for an estimated £1.15bn of the cost of the scheme over 20 years (with the domestic side accounting for just £30m).

It initially said it had to take instructions before answering the question, before later telling the News Letter that client confidentiality means it cannot not say.