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Ban lifted but no immediate plans to name RHI claimants

The High Court ruled that the names of companies claiming RHI could be published

THE Stormont department holding the list of nearly 2,000 Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) claimants has no immediate plans to publish the names despite a court ruling giving it the go-ahead.

A judge ruled yesterday that the identities of companies benefiting from the lucrative green energy scheme could be released by outgoing economy minister Simon Hamilton.

However, Mr Justice Deeny prohibited the minister from disclosing the names of individuals receiving money until any objections they have to being identified are properly considered.

An injunction against publishing the firms' names was lifted at 3pm yesterday but the Department for the Economy said it would "publish information as soon as is practical and all details are checked and released in line with the court decision".

The High Court ruling came after more than 500 members of the Renewable Heat Association of Northern Ireland (RHANI) took legal action in a bid to stop the economy minister disclosing their details.

There have been widespread calls since before Christmas for the full list of RHI recipients to made public.

The botched scheme, which was introduced in 2012, is forecast to cost the Stormont executive up to £490m over the next 20 years.

The assembly introduced cost controls in January but they will be in place only for one year and are also facing legal challenge.

The economy minister had already been able to publish the names of RHI claimants who are not members of RHANI - including some who have given permission to do so - but had chosen not to.

Mr Hamilton ceases to be economy minister when polls close at 10pm tonight, after which the decision on publication falls to the department's permanent secretary.

RHANI said last night the publication of names "is, in no way, evidence of wrongdoing" and added that it would continue to challenge the imposition of cost controls.

The BBC's Stephen Nolan Show said last month it also has a copy of the list but it has yet to publicise the names of any recipients.

A spokesman for the BBC said "investigations into this story are ongoing".

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