PRESS RELEASE

Andrew Trimble, Chair of the Renewable Heat Association said:

“The Association, which represents 538 operators of systems within DfE (NI)’s Scheme, welcomes all and any engagement from DfE.

We will analyse the documents and then provide guidance to our members.  We will do everything possible to encourage our members to have their say.

The consultation process will be hard to manage as the true root causes of the problem have not yet been fully determined and many of the “Key Facts” presented  by DfE are controversial, are not recognised nor agreed.

 

TOO ONEROUS

Our Freedom of Information requests regarding the recognised, audited financial position of the RHI Scheme have been rebuffed and refused as being “too onerous” for the Department to address.  The true position on which consultation should be based, remains opaque.

 

POSITION

The rights of the individual, legitimate participants in the Scheme in national and European Law need to be addressed.  The consultation documentation makes no mention of these nor does it consider the repercussions of the actions of civil servants and others charged to manage the Scheme.

 

LEGAL CHALLENGES

  1. The Association has appealed the outcome of our earlier Judicial Review Proceedings in which the lawfulness of the 2017 Regulations was challenged.  That  Appeal will be heard in October, 2018.
  2. We are aware that another party has been granted leave to have the lawfulness of the 2015 Regulations, challenged.
  3. The Association is taking legal advice on the lawfulness of the mechanisms under which the temporary, emergency, time-limited, 2017 Regulations were extended to March, 2019.

The Association has tried to engage with DfE and to encourage DfE to promote best practice behaviours.  Regrettably, the new Permanent Secretary has too many commitments to arrange a meeting and his predecessor declined an invitation to address our General Meeting.  In short, engagement by DfE (NI) with  legitimate Scheme participants has been woeful.

 

DATA BREACHES

We have become aware of what would appear to have been a series of multiple breaches of personal data by DfE (NI) when they circulated the consultation document.  We have invited the RHI Task Force Leader to refer the matter to the Information Commissioner’s Office.  We have advised our members to delete the covering email which compromises so many legitimate participants – including government employees who have used their departmental email for communications .

 

ENDS