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Department doesn't hold information on employee applications to non-domestic RHI scheme

Former First Minister Arlene Foster, who launched the RHI scheme, with Economy Minister Simon Hamilton. Picture by Mal McCann

ECONOMY Minister Simon Hamilton has said his department does not hold information on whether employees of the department's predecessor received payments under the non-domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme.

The botched RHI scheme, which could cost taxpayers up to £490 million, was launched by then Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster in 2012.

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) was subsumed into the newly created Department for the Economy last year.

In a written Assembly question from Green Party MLA and leader Steven Agnew, Mr Hamilton was asked whether any employees of DETI had benefited from the RHI's non-domestic scheme.

He replied: "Information on whether employees of the former department received payment under the scheme is not held by the department."

In response to a separate question from UUP Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA Rosemary Barton, the minister confirmed that no audits were carried out at companies to assess their levels of insulation or heat requirements prior to the installation of boilers.

Mr Hamilton said: "There was no requirement under the non-domestic Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme to carry out audits to assess heat requirements prior to installation, or audits to assess levels of insulation prior to the installation of the boilers."

Mrs Barton said that there appeared to have been "no consistency" in the installation of boilers.

She told The Irish News: "It appears very strange that the administrators of this system didn't require any form of assessment in relation to the heat required.

"Furthermore, with it being an energy conservation scheme, I am very disappointed to learn that it was unnecessary to inspect the building prior to installing the boiler."

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