The Ulster Farmers’ Union is calling for an immediate review of RHI payments following a damning report by the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, which concluded that rushed legislation has created a ‘raw deal’ for participants.
UFU deputy president, Victor Chestnutt said: “DfE and the Secretary of State got it wrong. By using emergency procedures to rush through legislation they have put the livelihood of hundreds of farming families in jeopardy. An urgent review of the payments is needed and must take into account the realistic costs associated with running a biomass boiler – including servicing and repairs.”
The UFU provided evidence to the NI Affairs Committee inquiry on behalf of members directly affected by the drastic RHI tariff cuts.
“In our submission, we highlighted that DfE failed to consider the wider costs and investment decisions associated with installing a biomass boiler. In many cases, the scheme has now become so unworkable that farmers are considering reverting back to using fossil fuels.
“We also stressed that the drastic cuts to the RHI tariff make Northern Ireland’s scheme uncompetitive when compared to tariff rates in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland. We are pleased to see the Committee recommending that NI’s scheme should have parity with other RHI schemes,” said Chestnutt.
The UFU says the RHI debacle came about as a result of a poorly designed government scheme, and yet, it is the scheme participants who are paying the price. “It is farcical. RHI participants are being made the scapegoats for the failings of government. They entered into a government scheme and were essentially sold out. The reduced tariff is crippling businesses and it cannot continue,” said Chestnutt.
The UFU is seeking an urgent meeting with Northern Ireland Office Permanent Secretary, Sir Jonathan Stephens, to ensure the recommendations of the NI Affairs Committee report are implemented immediately.