The Ulster Farmers’ Union says it is frustrated by the response it has received from the Department for the Economy permanent secretary, Andrew McCormick, in relation to the Union’s concerns around the department’s proposed extension of the temporary revised RHI tariffs. The UFU recently wrote to DfE to express alarm at the proposal. UFU chief executive Wesley Aston says that the proposal is deeply concerning and has the potential to cause long-term, irrevocable financial damage to those farm businesses enrolled in the RHI scheme.
“We wanted clarity from DfE around the RHI tariff situation. The permanent secretary has confirmed that while the revised tariff extension remains a proposal from DfE, he has clarified that it can only proceed with the return and approval from a government Minister,” says Mr Aston.
There is a fear amongst boiler owners that the 2017 temporary measures could be in place for much longer than necessary. “Many farmers have made long term investments in a Government-backed programme and it is wholly unacceptable they should have to bear the financial burden due to the ongoing uncertainty at Stormont,” says the chief executive.
The UFU has acknowledged the commencement of the pilot audit scheme for non-domestic RHI boiler installations. The UFU wants to see the ultimate roll-out of the full-inspection programme implemented as soon as possible. Mr Aston says, “We have been calling for a full audit of all boilers for some time now. This would allow the vast majority of people who are using the scheme legitimately to clear their names and distance themselves from the unfair and sensationalised media coverage that has beset this issue since late 2016.”