RHI Latest: Judge Gives Go Ahead for Challenge Over Naming Names

People operating biomass boilers under the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme will be able to challenge Department of the Economy plans to name them.

High Court Judge Mr Justice Deeny has ruled that there is “an arguable case” that could be made at a full hearing.

The court action was taken by the recently formed Renewable Heat Association of Northern Ireland (RHANI) which represents hundreds of non-domestic biomass boiler owners across the Province.

wood-pellets-buringMeanwhile, a public inquiry into the flawed RHI scheme is set to get underway on February 1st.

The inquiry is being chaired by retired appeal court judge Sir Patrick Coghlin whose remit is to get to the bottom of the controversy.

Commented Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir: “Sir Patrick will be unflinching in his pursuit of the truth and scrupulous in his analysis of the evidence. Rest assured every stone will be turned and there will be no dark corners where the light won’t shine.”

Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir
Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir

Added the Finance Minister: “This inquiry will be impartial and objective. I will not interfere in its work. It will be tasked to get to the truth of this issue. I call on all parties to sign up to unrestricted, unedited publication. I am aware that the RHI issue goes beyond financial matters to questions of governance and probity. By getting to the truth of the RHI scandal, this enquiry report will, I believe, address those wider issues, and, therefore, put the public first.”

The RHI scandal, which could cost the tax payer up to £490m,  led to the collapse of the Northern Ireland Executive, with an assembly election called for March 2nd.

First Minister Arlene Foster has welcomed the inquiry, saying that she had been wanting such for some time. “I have absolutely nothing to hide and so I look forward to the inquiry reporting. It would have been better if the inquiry had completed before any election, however we are where we are.”

According to information passed on to the BBC, most companies on the lucrative RHI scheme are based in mid-Ulster and north Antrim; there are said to be almost 350 boilers there. In the Ballymena and Ballymoney areas it is claimed there are over 270 boilers.

Statistics show the total of 2,128 recipients are split roughly between commercial and farming interests.