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DUP's RHI plan 'will lead to legal challenges'

The DUP wants to cut the potential £490 million RHI overspend

THE DUP's plan to cut the cash-for-ash overspend is "likely to result in significant legal challenge".

In a letter to the Department of the Economy, a solicitor representing some RHI recipients claimed retrospective changes to the scheme would be "entirely without precedent".

Economy minister Simon Hamilton wants to cut payments to around 1,800 people who joined the scheme before cost controls were introduced in November 2015.

The proposals include introducing a one-year two-tier tariff structure and a payment cap from April 1, with a longer-term plan to follow.

The solicitor's letter stated: "Such steps may adversely affect the participants, who, you will appreciate, have invested considerable sums in ensuring they are in a position to participate in the scheme, in the legitimate expectation of receiving specific tariffs for the duration of the scheme."

It added: "The legislation is likely to result in significant legal challenge given the impact on participants."

Recipients said they were concerned "that they are being asked to bear the costs of (i) budgetary miscalculations of the department and (ii) inflated costs caused by potentially fraudulent operators".

The letter also stated that they "do not consent to their details being published as requested".

A separate group representing around 100 RHI recipients has also said that any cut in payments would be "catastrophic".

Michael Doran, representing the Renewable Heat Association (RHA), has called on politicians not to "hammer the people who are operating the scheme properly".

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