UFU slam DfE actions over RHI

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) says approximately 130 participants of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) will be impacted by the outcome of the recent court hearing, confirming that the Department for Economy (DfE) acted unlawfully in its attempt to recover money from a farmer who is involved in the scheme.

UFU president David Brown said, “The High Court’s finding on the RHI case is outrageous and it is almost a dead cert that there are cases of a similar nature, where participants have been made to repay money because they were allegedly abusing the scheme. We urge UFU members to seek legal advice as they will be impacted by this outcome.

“For many years, UFU members who entered the RHI scheme endured suspicion and have had accusations thrown at them. Innocent parties were wrongly ejected from the scheme and forced to repay subsidies like the poultry farmer who contested the sanctions imposed on him which exposed the unlawful behaviour of DfE. Since the beginning of this scandal, we have stood by our farmers who endured false allegations and have been active in protesting their innocence. Vindication is needed for those members who were wrongly tarred with the same RHI brush of fraudulent behaviour.

“Prior to this court hearing we raised questions about DfE’s competence, capacity and capability to manage the scheme. These were wrongly dismissed but now there is no doubt about DfE’s competence – it is completely shot.

“The RHI scandal is a huge setback for renewables in Northern Ireland and there is a strong case to be made for ‘levelling up’ support for green energy here. We now want to see ownership of the RHI scheme being removed from DfE and are in full support of RHANI in their call to the Secretary of State to pass legislation in Westminster that would transfer the resources and the authority to the national lead department in Whitehall.”