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DUP-dominated council signed up to Renewable Heat Incentive on day it closed to new applications

Allen Park in Antrim was officially re-opened in October following an extensive redevelopment project
John Monaghan

A DUP-dominated council signed up to the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme on the day it closed to new applications in February, it has emerged.

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council confirmed that it had applied to the scheme but has not yet made any claims for Allen Park, a sports facility which boasts a golf course, full-sized sports hall and football pitches in Antrim town.

The council said it signed up on February 29 this year - the day the scheme closed to new applications.

It said it has made no claims under the RHI scheme as of last Monday, December 5.

An official re-opening of Allen Park was staged in October following an extensive redevelopment.

A council spokeswoman said: "The council has recently availed of support from the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme for a project at Allen Park, Antrim.

"The project at Allen Park is a sports hub which includes pitches, sports halls, changing rooms and a clubhouse."

She added: "The council signed up to the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme on February 29, but no claims have been made or paid as of week commencing December 5."

The DUP is the largest party on the 40-seat Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council with 15 councillors, followed by the UUP with 13.

The Irish News contacted all 11 councils across Northern Ireland yesterday, with Antrim and Newtownabbey the only one to confirm it applied to the RHI scheme.

The mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Ulster Unionist councillor John Scott, said: "It is energy saving and it is good for the ratepayer. That would be why the council has taken it on board. The council would have thought about it long before (February 29).

"I don't know much about the scheme and was in Australia for the three months at the start of this year."

Mr Scott added: "The way that the scheme has spiralled out of control, with people abusing it, is wrong."

Seven councils - Belfast, Mid and East Antrim, Ards and North Down, Fermanagh and Omagh, Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon; Derry and Strabane, and Newry, Mourne and Down - have said they are not recipients of the RHI.

The PSNI and three health trusts - Southern, Western and South-Eastern - also confirmed they are not claimants for any of their buildings.

The Belfast Health Trust and Northern Health Trust, the Department of Health, and the remaining three councils did not respond or could not be reached for comment.

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