Green subsidies are now a major political debate

Jonathan Bell
Jonathan Bell

The revelations about some of Gaelectric’s involvement with the DUP come at a time when a DUP minister has just done a rapid U-turn on multi-million pound subsidies for wind power.

On Wednesday Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell dropped his proposal to maintain a more generous system of subsidies in Northern Ireland and instead agreed to follow the Conservative Government’s new and less lucrative system of subsidies.

That came after his department acted in an unusual way by claiming to its Stormont scrutiny committee that it had assurances from Westminster that it could maintain more generous subsidies without Northern Ireland having to pay for them.

Earlier this week the News letter revealed that Peter Robinson’s son Gareth worked for at least two major renewable energy firms, but he declined to say if he lobbied Mr Bell to pursue a policy favourable to those firms.

Mr Robinson, who quit politics in 2013 for “business and family” reasons, has worked for Gaelectric and Lightsource, documents released to this newspaper reveal.

On Tuesday, the News Letter asked Mr Bell’s department whether the minister or the department had been lobbied by Mr Robinson.

It did not respond.

When contacted on Wednesday, a press officer again promised to reply, but did not.

When again contacted yesterday and asked the same question, the department again failed to clarify whether Mr Robinson had lobbied on behalf of renewable energy firms.

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