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Thirty people working on RHI scheme now, inquiry hears

John Mills appeared before the RHI Inquiry again yesterday

THIRTY people are continuing to work on the Renewable Heating Incentive (RHI) scheme, despite the initiative being closed to new applicants for more than two years, the RHI Inquiry heard yesterday.

Senior civil servant John Mills, who ran the government energy team responsible for the project, yesterday said just two people had worked on the scheme during its operation.

But he said there are currently 30 people working on the RHI scheme, even though it was closed to applicants since early 2016.

He also said he felt "betrayed" by senior Stormont officials at the time, who had assured him that additional resources would be provided.

Mr Mills, who was responsible for the RHI scheme from January 2014 through a key period when flaws began to emerge, told the inquiry he had "sought additional resources" on a number of occasions after financial constraints had led to cutbacks on posts.

He said he had to move a member of staff from Deti's electricity branch to work in the renewable heat team.

The inquiry also heard yesterday that Deti's energy team faced a "sea of potential risks".

In his witness statement, Mr Mills said the workload in running Deti's energy team was "extremely onerous, with ever-increasing demands on my time".

"There were multiple issues to be dealt with - for the most part all of them were described as urgent," he added.

Mr Mills, who first appeared before the inquiry in March, also said the team had over-committed itself and he had to take the axe to some proposed projects.

He said the RHI scheme was the "worst example" of the team's insufficient resources.

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