‘Raw deal’ for boiler owners

Chair of the NI Affairs Committee Simon Hoare
Chair of the NI Affairs Committee Simon Hoare
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Stormont officials have “missed an opportunity” to improve RHI payments for boiler owners in Northern Ireland, a Westminster committee has said.

Simon Hoare, the chairman of the NI Affairs Committee, said participants in the botched green energy scheme are getting a “raw deal” compared to boiler owners using a similar scheme in Great Britain.

Earlier this year, the then secretary of state Karen Bradley rushed through legislation at Westminster in one day which retrospectively slashed the RHI subsidies in Northern Ireland.

But in a statement yesterday, Mr Hoare’s committee said that in comparison with a similar scheme in GB, the repayment rate for the Northern Ireland scheme is based on “unrealistically low costing which results in unfair payments for participants”.

The Tory MP said his committee’s main recommendation – that the wider investment decisions taken by boiler owners should be accounted for in the revised payments – had not been accepted by the Department for the Economy.

And he urged the department to take steps to make the its scheme comparable to its counterpart in Great Britain.

While he said he was pleased that senior civil servants had accepted some of the recommendations set out in a report by his committee, Mr Hoare added: “It is not enough to offer participants an acceptable way to get out of the scheme that takes into account indirect costs; these costs must be built in to the payments offered by the scheme to make it comparable to the counterpart scheme in Great Britain.

“RHI participants in Northern Ireland are getting a raw deal from this scheme and I will write to the Permanent Secretary to press the department for action to rectify this.”