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Published: 27/06/2017

RHI troubles in Northern Ireland

The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) was introduced to the UK in 2012, as a financial scheme/incentive by the government to help the public take up the opportunity to introduce heating their home or business premises via renewable energy sources.

This has covered many renewable energy sources including the MCS Heat Pump.

In Northern Ireland it was rolled out after the success of it in Great Britain, to help aid the public sector and businesses to help them afford the installation of renewable energy sources, which will aid in reducing the country’s carbon emissions.

The RHI is a great incentive and has helped many to be able to not only lower their own energy bills, but to help the environment too, plus get money to help pay with the installation.

However, in Northern Ireland it has caused controversy across the country and penultimately fraud has been committed.

So what went so wrong in Northern Ireland?

Well, unlike the RHI in England where they had a cap to the amount of money provided to people for taking up the incentive, this didn’t happen in Northern Ireland and this is where lies the problem.

Any business that took up the offer could profit greatly from the scheme. So much so that £86,000 a day is paid out to businesses registered on the scheme.

The problem was identified back in the summer of 2015 but a cap wasn’t put in place until November of that year, followed by a complete closure to new applicants in February 2016.

The government and in particular Arlene Foster has come under fire for letting this happen. A full scaled public enquiry has started to look into quite possibly the biggest financial scandal to have embraced the shores of Northern Ireland, that could see taxpayers helping to pay back some of the money.

A current inspection is being carried out on all the current registered RHI recipients to make sure their renewable energy sources are correct and fit within the regulations.

The list of each RHI recipient has also been publically released which includes names of all limited liability partnerships and limited companies involved in accordance with the judgement issued in March 2017 by the High Court.

It has become a big political upset too, with many high profile government officials facing a huge pressure of questions understandably, demanding to know why and how the scheme was able to be uncapped.

This situation has prompted the huge collapse of the devolved institutions, with even Sinn Fein refusing to go into government with Arlene Foster while the RHI inquiry takes place.

Arlene Foster was the Enterprise Minister when the RHI scheme was introduced into Northern Ireland and refuses and denies any wrongdoing – so much so she is determined to cut the estimated £490 million overspend to zero, and not step down even though the pressure from the public and opposing parties are wanting her too. This will happen by lowering the tariff amount that claimants will receive and will last for a year in the hope of saving £30 million.