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Political news

Public asked for views on future of botched RHI scheme

The Department for the Economy has launched a consultation on the long-term future of the non-domestic RHI

Stormont officials are considering one-off payments to claimants of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) in a bid to bring the botched scheme to a close.

The proposal is contained in a consultation on the scheme's long-term future launched yesterday by the Department for the Economy (DfE).

The non-domestic RHI was introduced in 2012 under the then enterprise minister Arlene Foster. However, its generous subsidies were curbed in the autumn of 2015 amid fears that it was going massively over budget. The scheme, which proved especially popular among poultry farmers supplying Moy Park, was closed down completely the following February.

In the wake of widespread public outcry, caps on payments to claimants were introduced but require fresh legislation every year.

A group of claimants are challenging the imposition of caps on the lavish payments.

The RHI scheme is currently the subject of a public inquiry chaired by retired judge Sir Patrick Coghlin.

DfE's 12-week consultation will seek the views of participating farmers, businesses and biomass suppliers, as well as the wider public who fund the scheme.

Among the potential measures officials are considering is a return to the subsidy structure which saw claimants paid £1.60 for £1 worth of biomass fuel burned.

The consultation can accessed at www.economy-ni.gov.uk/consultations/future-northern-ireland-non-domestic-renewable-heat-incentive-scheme

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