Northern Ireland

List reveals firms benefitting from lucrative RHI scheme

The list of RHI claimants features many poultry businesses
The list of RHI claimants features many poultry businesses

A list of companies claiming Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) subsidies shows that some have already been paid in excess of £500,000 since the botched scheme was launched.

The Department for the Economy yesterday published the names of around 400 companies and organisations and the amounts they have received, including private businesses, poultry farms, conservation charities and sports clubs.

The identities of individuals claiming under the scheme remain under wraps, after a judge said the department should first consider any objections they have.

Also absent are firms whose payment to date amount to less than £5,000.

RHI: An Irish News special investigation

The list published online by the department details each RHI installation in alphabetical order of company name, along with the date of the application, the postcode, the boiler capacity, and the total payments made up to February 28 this year.

It is available at

The list published by The Irish News today has collated each company's installations and payments and ordered them by the total amounts received.

The highest claimant disclosed is Paul Hobson Ltd, a Co Tyrone-based poultry business with 13 biomass boilers, which has been paid £659,500 since first applying to join RHI in 2013.

Eglinton Timber Products in Co Derry has received £539,000 to date, while McIlroy Farms, another poultry business based near Coleraine, has been paid £513,000.

Chicken and turkey farmers figure prominently on the list, many with multiple biomass boilers.

Suppliers to meat processor Moy Park have previously been linked to the botched scheme, which was rolled out in 2012 under then enterprise minister Arlene Foster.

RHI list: in-depth coverageOpens in new window ]

The list also features a large number of companies installing and supplying renewable heaters and biomass products.

The National Trust, several golf clubs, quarry businesses and car dealerships are also included.

And the list confirms reports in The Irish News in December which revealed that the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise runs four boilers at three sites across the north.

The postcodes that feature most heavily are BT70 to 79, covering areas of Co Tyrone and Fermanagh, with a total of 282 installations - accounting for a third of the list. The Dungannon area features particularly prominently.

A body representing 500 RHI claimaints last night defended its members' participation in the lucrative green energy scheme.

The Renewable Heat Association of Northern Ireland (RHANI) appealed to the public not to assume that any of those named have acted improperly.

The RHANI sought to prevent the publication of the scheme's claimants through a legal challenge and still hopes to stop the introduction of cost-cutting measures passed by the Stormont assembly in January.

A statement from the group said claimants entered the scheme legitimately and that it was designed and promoted by the Stormont government.

A Department for the Economy inspection of around 2,000 boilers on 1,200 sites is expected to begin in May.

A public inquiry into the scheme led by retired judge Sir Patrick Coghlin will also hold a preliminary session next month.

The probe, which could take up to a year to complete, will examine the design and operation of RHI as well as allegations that political pressure delayed the imposition of cost controls.

The scheme closed in February last year after concerns about its spiralling cost to the Stormont executive.

A cap on payments had been introduced the previous November, but not before a huge spike in applications.

RHI: An Irish News special investigation

Former First Minister Mrs Foster established the RHI scheme in a bid to encourage firms to move from fossil to renewable energy sources.

However, flaws in the scheme's design meant recipients were able to earn more than it cost to fuel the boilers, leading to it being branded a "cash for ash" scandal.

Former deputy first minister Martin McGuinness asked Mrs Foster to stand aside while an inquiry produced a preliminary report and when she refused he resigned and collapsed the power-sharing institutions.