Two Stormont departments decline to comment on reports RHI scheme could be closed down

The Department for the Economy said proposals to deal with the RHI scheme overspend would be brought forward in the New Year
John Monaghan

TWO Stormont departments have declined to comment on reports that the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme could be closed down.

It has been reported that the Executive is considering buying out the contracts of RHI recipients.

Such a move would involve a compensation scheme cover the cost of subsidies for the next 20 years.

The Department for the Economy declined to comment on the possible closure of the scheme, but said that it is "exploring a number of cost control options" which will be brought to the Assembly and consulted upon in the New Year.

A spokesman said: "Officials are in discussion with legal advisors (from both the Departmental Solicitors Office and the Attorney General’s Office).

"Options on the way forward will be informed by this advice. The minister plans to bring a proposal to the assembly, and issue a consultation document, as early as possible in the New Year."

Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir said it would be "inappropriate" to speculate on any potential measures.

He said: "It’s imperative that any plan to resolve this issue is robust and financially sound. No preferred option has been put before me and there is still much work to be done.

"In the interim, it would be inappropriate to speculate on the viability or cost of any solution. As Finance Minister, I will scrutinise any options brought forward to ensure that it stacks up and that it reduces the huge costs of RHI to a minimum."

On Monday, First Minister and DUP leader Arlene Foster survived a motion of no confidence in the Assembly over her handling of the fiasco.

Mrs Foster was the minister in charge at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment when the scheme was launched in 2012.

The RHI scheme is expected to cost taxpayers £400 million over the next 20 years unless an alternative plan can be found.

What Arlene Foster said about RHI in October: 

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