The Renewable Heat Association

The Renewable Heat Association for Northern Ireland

Author: Brittany (page 1 of 2)

RHI Judicial Review – UFU Comment

The following is a statement issued by Ulster Farmers Union (UFU) following today’s Judicial Review Judgment:

The Ulster Farmers’ Union says it is disappointed with today’s judgement when the vast majority of people using the scheme were doing so legitimately. It says these people installed boilers to reduce energy costs, and were encouraged to do so by the department responsible for the scheme.

 

The UFU added that it’s role would be to ensure a fair solution for its members who had invested in a scheme with a long term commitment that it would reduce energy costs.

RHANI Statement – 21st December 2017

Andrew Trimble, Executive Chair, Renewable Heat Association NI (RHANI) said;

The Judgment handed down in this matter is complex and we are naturally disappointed. We will meet with our legal team to discuss the implications and then discuss our strategic roadmap at a General Meeting of our members. The judgment also has significant consequences for the wider renewables sector in Northern Ireland, Great Britain and the wider common law jurisdictions.

During the forthcoming consultation period we hope that DfE will work with us and will attempt to restore confidence in the Renewable Energy sector. The ethical criteria and the absolute need to reduce the emission of polluting green-house gases created from burning of fossil fuels, remain as key drivers in our economy.

 

‘€600 million/year’ fine if Ireland misses 2020 renewable energy targets

By Niall Claffey

28th October 2017

 

“We are potentially looking at a €600 million/year fine for missing the 2020 targets – where’s the urgency?”

This was the headline message from the Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA’s) renewable energy chairman, James Murphy, when he addressed a healthy crowd at the Energy Now Expo 2017 in Cillin Hill, Co. Kilkenny, on Wednesday (October 25).

Murphy outlined what has happened in other countries, including the UK.

“Its government took the decision to incentivise in order to establish a vibrant and meaningful renewable energy sector within the country.

Ireland needs to do the same. The Irish farmers are looking for viable and realistic alternative land uses and the more information that can be got out to farmers the better.

The renewable energy chairman commented on the development of the sector in Ireland.

“Where incentives have been put in place and where there has been progress on the renewable energy side, there has been real interest – farmers are keen to get involved.

There are thousands of acres of Irish farmland on some sort of solar contract. This is conclusive proof that there is real interest at farm level – but we’ve waited and waited and we’re still waiting.

A clear message from the conference was that farmers need to be encouraged and incentivised, by the government, to become producers and consumers of their own renewable heat and electricity. The surplus energy could then be fed into the national grid.

An incentive was launched a number of years ago for farmers to plant energy crops and there was strong uptake.

Unfortunately, the farmers who did plant and establish those energy crops “got burnt” and, as a result, they are quite disillusioned.

According to Murphy, the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) needs to be fast-tracked and opened in the first quarter of 2018. There is also a lot of developer interest in Ireland right now in terms of solar, renewable heat and anaerobic digestion.

The message is fairly stark and fairly clear. Ireland is falling way behind the rest of Europe. The Irish farmers are falling behind their counterparts. There is a real appetite – farmers want to engage.

“The one thing we need is urgency. I would have hoped to see the RHI opened in the first quarter of this year, but we are now at the end of 2017 and it’s disappointing.”

He also touched on the importance for communities to get involved in renewable energy in this country.

“We’ve seen the downside to farmers being left ‘dumped’ between themselves and their communities over wind projects.

In relation to politicians, I’m shocked as to how little they know about renewable energy – and they don’t seem to care about learning.

“We have €7 million earmarked for the RHI next year – that would be a drop in the ocean. There would want to be a zero behind the seven,” he concluded.

 

[Source: AgriLand: http://www.agriland.ie/farming-news/e600-millionyear-fine-if-ireland-misses-2020-renewable-energy-targets/]

Correspondence re: Ringfencing of Money and DSO letter re DfE Qualifications

Claimants should have known our RHI ‘guarantee’ might be broken, says department

Friday 13th October 2017

By Sam McBride

Although government told RHI claimants that the subsidies were set in stone for 20 years, boiler owners should have realised that there was the possibility of change, a government lawyer has told Belfast High Court.

Despite the fact that the RHI subsidy levels were set out in statute, were actively promoted by multiple arms of government and that users in many cases took on huge loans on that basis, Tony McGleenan QC effectively said that the users – many of whom are farmers – should have been more careful in accepting at face value what they were told.

He said the fact that the tariffs – which government described at the time as “certain”, “guaranteed”, “reliable” and “long-term” – were contained in secondary, rather than primary, legislation should have alerted claimants to the possibility that the tariffs could be changed.

Referring to the applicants’ contention that they had a “substantive legitimate expectation” of the payments continuing, Mr McGleenan, who is Stormont’s voice in the courtroom, accepted that the department had given a “commitment” that the tariffs would be ‘grandfathered’ [a legal term indicating that the tariffs were exempt from future change].

But he went on to argue that the fact the tariffs were in the form of regulations rather than an act of the Assembly “would have signalled [to the claimants] that the regulations are always amenable to change” and that it “couldn’t be construed as a commitment to make mistaken payments”.

Asked by the judge, Mr McGleenan clarified that the possibility of such a change extended to any other piece of secondary legislation.

The QC argued that the applicants, a group of boiler owners attempting to overturn the retrospective regulations which slashed their payments, were actually complaining about what was in the regulations because they couldn’t sustain a complaint that the department was in breach of the Energy Act – the legislation under which the regulations were made – due to the fact that it gave broad scope to the department to make regulations.

Mr Justice Colton put it to counsel for the department that although the government can change some laws, such as taxes, at short notice, unlike the RHI claimants there is never any suggestion that taxpayers will face the same rate of tax for 20 years.

The judge went on to ask Mr McGleenan whether the department was saying that all government regulations made under a wide power “are such that those impacted by them should be aware of the caveat here to be aware that they could be changed?”

Mr McGleenan responded: “Yes. The issue then is whether [the change] is fair.”

He later said that it did not matter whether the regulations were retrospective in application but that “what matters here is whether what is happening here is so unfair that Parliament could never have intended it”.

He said it was for the judge to decide “whether we have acted unfairly or disproportionately” but that there was no blanket prohibition on retrospective law.

Mr McGleenan also said that no one could have had a reasonable expectation of a rate of return on their investment of up between 70% and 100%.

And he said that even if the court ruled that there was something “akin to a contract” which had given such a reasonable expectation then it had to decide whether it had been “an abuse of power” by the Assembly to break that promise.

Mr McGleenan, who described the RHI project as “a visibly dysfunctional scheme”, said that the changes had been made for the right reason – “to protect the public purse” and to correct design flaws in the scheme, adding: “That’s nowhere near an abuse of power.”

Moy Park ‘taking payments’

The court was also told that a poultry farmer who is one of the applicants in the case was not able to keep all of the income from his RHI subsidy.

Mr McGleenan referred to an affidavit from the man and said that he was “put under pressure by his customer, Moy Park, who require a portion of the subsidy to be paid directly to them”. Referring to that issue, Mr McGleenan said the suggestion was “concerning”.

The judge asked whether in the absence of an Executive the commitment given by the department in January to consult about a long-term replacement to the one-year retrospective regulations before they expire next March could be kept. Mr McGleenan said that was “going to be difficult” and that it “may well be that there will be some recourse to Westminster in those circumstances … there are contingency plans.”

Foster’s letter on ‘providing certainty’ raised

Yesterday the High Court was yet again brought to a key letter from Arlene Foster in which she set out a categoric guarantee that RHI tariffs would not be changed.

The then enterprise minister’s January 2013 letter to the banks urged them to lend money for the scheme and said that “tariffs are ‘grandfathered’ providing certainty for investors by setting a guaranteed support level for projects for their lifetime in a scheme, regardless of future reviews” and that the subsidy was “reliable, long term and offers a good return on investment”.

Responding for the boiler owners, Gerry Simpson QC said: “The applicant’s case, at its heart, remains that the tariff was grandfathered to provide the certainty referred to in the [departmental] documentation … the 2012 [regulations] participants entered into significant financial liabilities … based on the 2012 regulations.”

He said that it was the department which had chosen the precise nature of the scheme, the department which “chose to extol the benefits and virtues of grandfathering” and its then minister, Arlene Foster, who wrote to the banks to urge them to lend to individuals – some of whom he is representing – based on the certainty of the tariffs.

He set out five departmental documents in which it used words such as “certainty”, “confidence”, “guaranteed” and “consistent”.

He added: “If anybody had any doubt about those unequivocal statements, one has the regulations themselves.” The regulations, he said, were described to encourage people to make financial investments “in the sure and certain knowledge” that the tariffs were permanent.

He said that if the department believed that it had the legal power to alter the tariffs at any point then “their representations were, at the very least, fundamentally misleading”.

And he took issue with what he described as “an undertone that there was abuse”, saying: “If people are misusing the scheme there is a very clear mechanism to remove them from the scheme … still nothing seems to have happened … [but] you cannot arbitrarily remove someone from the scheme.”

At the close of the case, the judge reserved his judgment, saying that he would deliver it as soon as he could.

[Source: The News Letter: Read more at: http://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/claimants-should-have-known-our-rhi-guarantee-might-be-broken-says-department-1-8194809]

Department’s lawyer admits ‘catastrophic error’ in RHI scheme

By Sam McBride

9th October 2017

A lawyer for the Stormont department responsible for the RHI scandal has admitted in court to a “catastrophic error” in how it set up the scheme.

Speaking for the first time today on the fourth day of a judicial review case which RHI claimants have taken against the department, Tony McGleenan QC set out the Department for the Economy’s version of how its supposedly environmentally friendly scheme led to a “perverse incentive to use heat”.

He argued that the scale of its error meant that it was justified in taking a highly unusual legal route to retrospectively alter the agreement which it had with RHI claimants.

A huge sum of public money is riding on the outcome of the case, which is an attempt to overturn Stormont’s retrospective change to the tariffs which boiler owners were promised would be set for 20 years.

This morning in Belfast High Court the lawyer for the boiler owners, Gerry Simpson QC, warned that if the retrospective change to the tariffs was allowed to stand there would be far-reaching implications far beyond this which will directly impact on his clients.

He set out how the minister who set up the scheme, the now DUP leader Arlene Foster, had written to banks promising that the tarrifs would be “grandfathered”, a legal term meaning that they were guaranteed for the 20 years and could not be altered.

That 2013 letter, revealed by the News Letter in December, had said: “Tariffs are ‘grandfathered’ providing certainty for investors by setting a guaranteed support level for projects for their lifetime in a scheme, regardless of future reviews”.

Mr Simpson said that if the overturning of that guarantee was allowed to stand it was “difficult to imagine any subsequent scheme which is attractive for participants who could have the rug pulled from under their feet” and said that it would be similarly difficult to see why banks would lend to people on the basis of supposed government guarantees in other schemes.

He said that “if the department is permitted to effectively resile from” its explicit commitments, “who is going to rely on government promises ever again [if the retrospective change stands]?”

Presenting the department’s case, Mr McGleenan told the judge, Mr Justice Colton, that he was not required to conduct a public inquiry into the running of the RHI scheme nor to apportion blame.

He accepted that some of the criticisms of the department by Mr Simpson had been “well made” and that the department “agreed there have been shortcomings in this process” and “failures in cost control” of the scheme, adding: “Obviously mistakes have been made.”

However, Mr McGleenan argued that once those mistakes had been identified it was then right that the department, the Assembly and the Stormont Executive attempt to undo them.

And, referring to how Mr Simpson had point out multiple departmental flaws, he said that he had “made a skillful and compelling case for amending the regulations”.

He said that the applicants’ case was effectively that despite agreeing on the problem “we should not suffer any detriment as a result”.

Mr McGleenan also drew attention to the fact that the retrospective regulations – passed by DUP MLAs in the Assembly with all other MLAsabstaining in January at the height of public fury at the handling of the scheme – had not solely been the work of the department but had been approved by the legislature.

He said that the court should “afford an appropriate margin” to the legislature in assessing how it had weighted the competing elements of the public interest.

Referring to departmental failures, Mr McGleenan said that “it was clear from an early stage that there were budgetary constraints” on the scheme. He said that in April 2011, long before the RHI scheme began in late 2012, the Treasury had written to the department to say that the Northern Ireland scheme would only receive 3% of the budget of the GB scheme, “in other words, anything over 3% would be paid from the block grant”.

And he rejected arguments about the impact which the retrospective regulations will have on claimants, saying: “Listening to my learned friend, one might have thought the purpose of the scheme was to subsidise poultry farming or mushroom growth. Clearly, it was not.”

Mr McGleenan also rejected arguments by the RHI claimants that the actual over-spend on the scheme was far short of the £490 million claimed by the department and may be as low as £60 million.

He said that in arriving at its lower figures, the claimants had argued that the intended 12% rate of return from the scheme had not included the cost of servicing loans when in fact that had been part of the calculation built into that figure from the start.

He set out how consultants Cambridge Economic Policy Associates (CEPA) – hired by the department to help it design the scheme – had considered the issue of cost controls but decided they were unnecessary because the cost of fuel was lower than the rate of the subsidy.

However, as the cost of fuel and the rate of subsidy changed prior to the RHI scheme opening, it was not realised that “that core assumption is wrong, and from that flows the difficulty”.

He said that “fundamental, catastrophic error” had led to a situation where “the level of subsidy far exceeds that for which approval was sought and approved” from the European Commission under state aid rules.

For that reason, he argued, the retrospective regulations were required to rectify the situation.

Among those present in court were several RHI claimants, John McBurney, the solicitor representing key DUP figures including Arlene Foster at the RHI public inquiry, and Mrs Foster’s former key Spad, Richard Bullick.

The case continues.

 

[Source: The News Letter: http://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/crime/department-s-lawyer-admits-catastrophic-error-in-rhi-scheme-1-8188433]

Media Coverage of Judicial Review – week commencing 2nd October 2017

Please find below links to a range of media coverage featuring this week’s Judicial Review.

 

3rd August – Irish Farmers Journal: RHI costs well below £100m – original £490m figure incorrect claim RHANI

4th October – Fresh Produce Journal: Mushroom growers count costs of biomass scandal

4th October – BBC: RHI officials ‘showed crass incompetence’

4th October – UTV:  ‘Crass incompetence’ shown by RHI officials, court hears

4th October – Belfast Telegraph: RHI scheme was let down by incompetence, hopeless oversight and a catalogue of errors, court hears

4th October – BBC: RHI officials ‘showed crass incompetence’

5th October – News Letter: RHI overspend ‘could be as low as £60m – not £500m’

5th October – Irish News: RHI overspend could be as low as £60 million, court hears

5th October – BBC: RHI scheme projected overspend ‘flawed’, court told 

5th October – Belfast Telegraph: RHI overspend ‘as low as £60m’, court hears

5th October – News Letter: Don’t forget the benefits RHI has brought: barrister

UTV: ‘Crass incompetence’ shown by RHI officials, court hears

Cutting the level of Renewable Heat Incentive payments “flew in the face of” all Stormont assurances, the High Court has heard.

Counsel representing a group of boiler owners insisted they signed up to the green energy scheme on the basis that tariff rates would be guaranteed for 20 years.

He also set out the financial burden facing farmers plunged heavily into debt by their investment, and claimed officials who ran the botched initiative had shown “crass incompetence”.

More than 500 members of the Renewable Heat Association NI Ltd are challenging the decision to reduce payments assured under the original 2012 regulations.

They argue there was no legal power for the move, and that a Stormont department must have known rates could not be altered retrospectively.

Under the scheme businesses and other non-domestic users were encouraged to move from using fossil fuels to renewable heating systems.

But with operators legitimately able to earn more cash the more fuel they burned, the cost to the public purse has been projected at up to £490m – a figure disputed by the association.

The debacle led to the collapse of Stormont’s power-sharing administration, and the establishment of a public inquiry chaired by retired judge Sir Patrick Coghlin.

Earlier this year former economy minister Simon Hamilton set out revised 2017 RHI Regulations as part of cost-cutting proposals.

Lawyers for the association contend this was an illegal step against boiler owners with 20-year contracts.

As part of a wider challenge they are seeking to have the move declared ultra vires, or beyond the department’s legal powers.

Opening the association’s application for judicial review, Gerald Simpson QC told Mr Justice Colton anyone who included in the 2012 regulations had their payment rates fixed for 20 years.

“There was a representation on the part of government that if you joined your tariff level would remain unchanged for the lifetime of accreditation,” he said.

“It’s precisely in breach of that, and a direct contradiction of that, that the 2017 regulations were promulgated.

“They have flown in the face of all government representations.”

A letter to banks in 2013 from the then enterprise minister, urging them to lend to businesses using the biomass boilers, was said to back the association’s case.

With subsidy levels described in the correspondence as “reliable and long-term”, the barrister claimed it amounted to a “cast-iron guarantee”.

Referring to press reports of alleged fraud and misuse surrounding the flawed scheme, he stressed available sanctions such as the stopping of payments and removal of accreditation.

“The department has always had, since 2012, this panoply of powers, but seems not to have used it,” he added.

During the hearing Mr Simpson referred to Treasury advice that it would not pay for any overspend in the scheme from central funds, with the money instead having to come from the Northern Ireland block grant.

Claiming this appeared to have been forgotten by Stormont officials involved with the initiative, the barrister described it as “crass incompetence”.

He emphasised how the Incentive was aimed at persuading businesses to replace existing “tried and trusted” heating systems with biomass installations.

The court heard how one poultry farmer took out a loan in excess of £300,000 on the understanding that his tariff would be fixed for 20 years.

In an affidavit the operator explained how he has always been an honest participant who now feels unfairly prejudiced and concerned about being able to pay back the bank.

“The financial burden undertaken by applicants for the scheme was very considerable,” Mr Simpson said.

The hearing continues.

[Source: UTV https://www.itv.com/news/utv/2017-10-04/crass-incompetence-shown-by-rhi-officials/]

Belfast Telegraph: RHI scheme was let down by incompetence, hopeless oversight and a catalogue of errors, court hears

By Alan Erwin

Northern Ireland’s Renewable Heat Incentive scheme was let down by incompetence, hopeless oversight and a catalogue of errors, the High Court heard on Wednesday.

Counsel for a group of boiler owners challenging cuts to their payments under the botched initiative claimed the Stormont department at the helm ignored opportunities to impose cost controls.

Gerald Simpson QC argued that officials apparently forgot Treasury advice that it would not foot the bill for any overspend.

He said: “It was not only badly thought out and badly designed, but it could have been rescued if the Department had taken any steps to carry out reviews.

“The incompetence starts at the beginning and goes right through to the end.

“It’s quite clear they thought London is going to pay for it.”

More than 500 members of the Renewable Heat Association NI Ltd are taking legal action against the decision to reduce tariffs assured under the original 2012 regulations.

They argue there was no legal power for the move announced by the Department for the Economy.

Under the scheme businesses and other non-domestic users were encouraged to move from using fossil fuels to renewable heating systems.

But with operators legitimately able to earn more cash the more fuel they burned, the cost to the public purse has been projected at up to £490 million – a figure disputed by the Association.

The debacle led to the collapse of Stormont’s power-sharing administration, and the establishment of a public inquiry chaired by retired judge Sir Patrick Coghlin.

Earlier this year former Economy Minister Simon Hamilton set out revised 2017 RHI Regulations as part of cost-cutting proposals.

Lawyers for the Association contend this was an illegal step against boiler owners with 20-year contracts.

As part of a wider challenge they are seeking to have the move declared ultra vires, or beyond the Department’s legal powers.

Opening the Association’s application for judicial review, Gerald Simpson QC told Mr Justice Colton anyone who included in the 2012 regulations had their payment rates fixed for 20 years.

“There was a representation on the part of government that if you joined your tariff level would remain unchanged for the lifetime of accreditation,” he said.

“It’s precisely in breach of that, and a direct contradiction of that, that the 2017 regulations were promulgated.

“They have flown in the face of all government representations.”

A letter to banks in 2013 from the then Enterprise Minister, urging them to lend to businesses using the biomass boilers, was said to back the Association’s case.

With subsidy levels described in the correspondence as “reliable and long-term”, the barrister claimed it amounted to a “cast-iron guarantee”.

In a withering assessment of how officials ran the scheme, Mr Simpson pointed to high levels of staff turnover and alleged failures to take common sense steps to control the costs.

He contended: “Your Lordship will be long on the bench before he sees such a catalogue of errors by a government department.”

Citing audits of the initiative, the barrister continued: “When one looks at these sorry failures it rather looks like the scheme was brought in and just left.”

Any steps to take mitigating action following the “light bulb moment” of potential financial implications were “hopeless”, he claimed.

“This is a government department and its agent who just do nothing,” Mr Simpson said.

By comparison, according to his submissions, a similar incentive in Britain introduced cost controls when increased demand was spotted.

“That is light years away from the competence evinced by this Department,” he told the court.

Challenged on the tiering which started in 2015, he responded: “That’s long after they missed opportunity after opportunity.”

Earlier, in a reference to press concerns about the potential for the scheme to be misused, Mr Simpson stressed available sanctions such as the stopping of payments and removal of accreditation.

“The Department has always had, since 2012, this panoply of powers, but seems not to have used it,” he added.

During the hearing it was pointed out how Incentive was aimed at persuading businesses to replace exiting “tried and trusted” heating systems with biomass installations.

The court heard how one poultry farmer took out a loan in excess of £300,000 on the understanding that his tariff would be fixed for 20 years.

In an affidavit the operator explained how he has always been an honest participant who now feels unfairly prejudiced and concerned about being able to pay back the bank.

“The financial burden undertaken by applicants for the scheme was very considerable,” Mr Simpson said.

The hearing continues.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

[Source: Belfast Telegraph http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/rhi-scandal/rhi-scheme-was-let-down-by-incompetence-hopeless-oversight-and-a-catalogue-of-errors-court-hears-36196919.html]

 

A letter to Charity Trustees, Governing bodies of Schools, Sports Associations & Clubs & Directors of Limited Companies

25th September, 2017

THE RENEWABLE HEAT INCENTIVE – DUTIES OF OFFICERS/TRUSTEES/DIRECTORS – RHANI MEMBERSHIP

Earlier this year, coverage around the Renewable Heat Incentive (Northern Ireland) was prolific.  Some of it was accurate but sadly, much was not.

Since then, many charities and small to medium businesses have felt the effects of the emergency, 2017 Regulations.  For them, the impact came as a financial shock when the quarterly rebate payment either stopped abruptly or, petered out to a small sum.

This letter is addressed to the management and the decision makers in organizations who adopted renewable heat for ethical reasons and who, as yet have not joined our Association.

The financial impact upon Scheme participants, upon trustees of charities, church officials, committee members of sports clubs and on the directors of limited companies was not newsworthy.  All were party to an Agreement between their organization and the Department for the Economy.  That Agreement was entered into, in good faith.

The terms of your Agreement were varied by the Emergency, time-limited 2017 Regulations.

The Regulations are short in length but very significant to the Scheme Participants. There are key words such as “regardless” and “initial heat.”

The “regardless” component relates to the start of the calculation of the new annual allowances.

“(a) the tariff for the initial heat generated by the installation in any 12-month period commencing with, or with the anniversary of, the date of accreditation (regardless of whether that date falls before or after the coming into operation of the Renewables Heat Incentive Scheme….”

If, for example, your installation had an anniversary of accreditation in October, then the 2017 Regulations mean that the “initial heat” allowance (see below) started running from October 16.  Thus, for some, the “initial heat” (allowance) and subsequent allowance may have been consumed before the Regulations were even considered by the Assembly, or the operational date of 1 April, 2017.  In consequence, some charities, churches and small businesses stopped receiving RHI rebate cheques some months ago.

The Regulation also set two “limits:” 1,314 hrs per annum and 400,000 hrs – a total of 4040 hours in any year.  A rebate applied for “initial heat” for 1,314 hours (about 4 hours per day) and after that period, the rebate paid per KWht dropped to £0.0015.  After 4,040 hours in any year, no rebate is payable.  For operations that have a legitimate 24/7 requirement for heat, the limits state that after a total of 55 days of operation, the rate of rebate drops to £0.015 and after 170 days, it ceases altogether.

The Emergency Regulations approved by the Assembly expire in March 2018.  What happens then?  Announcement on DfE Website on 16 August, 2017.  As will be noted from last month’s announcement on the DfE website, the Department for the Economy intend to run the time-limited regulations at least until March, 2019 – possibly beyond that date.

LEGAL POSITION

Should a trustee of a charity, committee member or director take independent advice as to fiduciary duties?  Yes.   Please be aware that to have your Agreement restored by way of a Judicial Review might cost £180,000. Membership of RHANI will cost a fraction of that.

CONSULTATION

If the Department were to follow normal practice and protocol, it would consult with the legitimate stakeholder group – the operators of the RHI Accredited boilers.  There are about 1,100 such charities, churches, clubs, companies and individuals.  To date, we have just under 600 members.  It is our aim to recruit and then advise and represent all participants in the RHI Scheme.

VOICE

Dr Andrew  McCormick, Permanent Secretary, Department of the Economy and his senior staff recently met with a cross-industry delegation to discuss, amongst other matters, the ongoing pilot audits.  We expressed our concern that the audits were arbitrary and used qualitative assessments.  We called for an MoT – style audit – with clear standards, a pass certificate and if there is a need for remedial action a clear statement of what is needed for the “re-test.”  We were alarmed to be told that none of the senior staff in DfE has any qualification or experience in energy regulation and none has the Office of Government Commerce qualification in programme management.

LEGAL PRECIDENT

Perhaps surprisingly, these circumstances have occurred before.  In an uncanny coincidence to the Northern Ireland Regulations, Friends of the Earth challenged the Department for Energy and Climate Change. Click here.   They challenged the unlawful, backdated legislation and they won.  In a subsequent case, the Breyer Group fought for consequential damages – and won.  The dates?  2012 & 2015.

FINANCIAL IMPACT

The 2017 Regulations may well have damaged your church, club of company’s financial health.  The costs of doing nothing are high.  Those in one of the categories above, simply can’t ignore that they must take some form of action as they are bound by the duties of their appointments.

Join Us.  Therefore, we would ask you to join RHANI – because RHANI can help your organization, be your voice and challenge this unlawful legislation on your behalf.  The greater our membership, the stronger our voice will be.  Our constitution and Rules allow for the expulsion from the Association, of any member who is found to have abused the Scheme.  “Empty Shed Man, please don’t apply for membership.” Ethical trustees, governors, select vestry and directors, click here to join RHANI.

Follow Us.  Our website, YouTube channel and Twitter details are at the head of this letter.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Trimble

Executive Chair

Renewable Heat Association of Northern Ireland (RHANI)

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