Ulster Farmers’ Union left “extremely frustrated” after meeting with minister about RHI changes

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) deputy president David Brown said he had been left “extremely frustrated” following a meeting with Diane Dodds, the economy minister, to discuss the ongoing consultation on changes to the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme used by many poultry farmers.

The UFU believes reducing the rate paid to boiler owners, as has been proposed in order to deal with a huge overspend by the government, would unfairly disadvantage those in Northern Ireland compared to the rest of GB. 

“We met with the Economy Minister to relay our concerns regarding the RHI consultation however, the outcome left us extremely frustrated,” said Brown. “Recent Assembly questions revealed that 99.76% of RHI payments to boiler installations were paid legitimately to businesses who had a genuine need for renewable heat. This figure gives a lie to the accusations in the media, that vilified genuine participants and contributed to the collapse of our Government. DfE talked a lot about introducing a new green energy scheme to replace RHI, however we made it clear that businesses have been so deeply affected by how they’ve been treated, that it’s unlikely that they will put their trust in any future DFE scheme.”

The RHI scheme in Great Britain (GB) continues to operate and the UFU are seeking parity with their counterparts. The GB tariffs, which are binding for 20 years, are based on what is available on the date the participant joins the scheme.

“The DfE have completely ignored the Burglass and Select Committee recommendations of parity with GB,” said Brown. “No GB boiler owner has ever faced retrospective cuts. Their tariff rates were only ever cut for new applications whilst today’s GB tariffs are almost £10,000/year, NI participants were cut to £2,200/year.

“In GB they can also remove an old boiler and replace it with one the same size or smaller and continue on the same tariffs. NI boiler owners cannot do that here. If they did, the new boiler wouldn’t qualify for RHI.”

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