By Jonny Bell

The Department of Economy has apologised over errors in the list it published of companies that claimed from the Renewable Heating Incentive scheme.

Earlier this month the government department published an extensive list of those that had claimed from the scheme.

On Friday it admitted that one business, which it said had claimed almost £250,000 by using five boilers from the scheme, in actual fact claimed just over £20,000 on one installation.

In a statement, the department said: “The Department for the Economy has published a revised list of businesses that have received payments under the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme.

“The list, which was initially published on 16 March, contained a small number of errors. These have now been rectified.

“The list previously published showed that Stephens Catering had five boilers with payments to date of £228,862.38. The company only has one boiler with payments to date of £20,252.76 – the list has been amended to reflect this. The Department wishes to apologise for any distress or inconvenience that has been caused by incorrect information being published.

“The Department is also currently working on a separate list which will contain the names of the individuals who are in receipt of payments of £5,000 or more under the non-domestic scheme and this will be published as soon as possible.”

The RHI scheme was found to be seriously flawed by auditors. A lack of caps on payments meant that as the price for the wood pellet fuel dropped, businesses were able to make huge profits.

For every £1 a business spent, they received £1.60 from the scheme. One business was found to be using a boiler in a huge shed with the windows open in order to maximise profits. Payments are still being made and a legal battle is underway to ensure they continue for the 20-year life of the scheme.

The Renewable Heating Association for Northern Ireland also fought to keep the list from being made public in a court battle it ultimately lost.

Arlene Foster, who was enterprise minister when the scheme was set up has pledged to reduce the projected £490million overspend to zero. The scandal ultimately brought down the Northern Ireland government.

A list of those individuals which claimed £5,000 or more is still to be published. In line with the court ruling Stormont officials have written to them asking for them to outline reasons why their names should not be included. When they process is complete the list will be published. It is hoped it will be closer to Easter before it is available.

[Source: Belfast Telegraph Online]