News

47 locals apply for ‘cash for ash’

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

THERE were 47 applications in the Rathfriland and Mourne area to the 'cash for ash' scheme.

The numbers of non-domestic applications were released last week as debate rages over the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme.

Figures released by the BBC's Nolan Show show that the area with the highest number of applications for the 'cash for ash' scheme was in the BT35 postal area, which covers Newry and South Armagh.

This was closely followed by 47 applications generated within the BT34 postcode area.

The Banbridge area (BT32 postcode) had the next highest number of RHI scheme applications at 29 while the Dromore (BT25) and Castlewellan area (BT31) had 14 applications in each area.

It is not known how many of these applicants were successful however some reports have stated that only one per cent of those who applied, were unsuccessful.

The non-domestic RHI scheme provides non-domestic properties, such as businesses, farms, schools and churches with ongoing payments for the use of an eligible renewable heat technology.

The scheme closed to new applications on 29 February 2016 amid concerns that it was open to abuse and that "serious systematic failings" that could leave local taxpayers facing an overspend of more than £490m.

There have since been widespread calls for a judge-led inquiry into the scheme and requests that the PSNI also investigate allegations of fraud linked to the so-called 'cash for ash' scandal.

With the Assembly due to be dissolved this Thursday (26 January), Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir confirmed last Thursday (19 January) that he was taking steps to set up what he described as "a no-hiding-place probe" into the RHI scheme.

Meanwhile, responding to widespread calls for the details of businesses benefiting from the RHI scheme to be made public, Economy Minister Simon Hamilton said he hopes to be able to publish the relevant information tomorrow (Wednesday).

“I believe that it is absolutely imperative that there is complete openness and transparency around the RHI scheme and particular in respect of the naming of businesses benefiting from the scheme. It has always been my intention to publish this information. However, I have equally always been mindful that I can only do so in accordance with my legal obligations," he said.

“Last month, my department wrote to all of those participating in the non-domestic RHI scheme indicating my desire to publish recipients' details. The department is currently analysing the responses received and are following a clear process as required under section 10 of the 1998 Data Protection Act. The process will balance the competing interests of transparency and the right to privacy and protection in accordance with the law.

“When the process is concluded it would be my intention to publish RHI recipient details on Wednesday 25 January," the Minister added.

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