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Civil servant admits errors were made in heat scheme

By Lesley-Anne McKeown

Published 01/12/2016

A Senior civil servant charged with overseeing a controversial renewable energy scheme was yesterday unable to explain why it was never reviewed,
A Senior civil servant charged with overseeing a controversial renewable energy scheme was yesterday unable to explain why it was never reviewed,

A Senior civil servant charged with overseeing a controversial renewable energy scheme was yesterday unable to explain why it was never reviewed.

The Renewable Heat Incentive was designed to cut the cost of green energy to encourage people off fossil fuels, but it ended up landing ministers with an overspend of hundreds of millions of pounds.

David Sterling, permanent secretary for the Department of Finance, said the botched initiative had not been high on his radar, but accepted mistakes were on his watch. He added: "With hindsight, I may have got my priorities wrong."

Blunders in the scheme - including no cap on claims - meant a business could burn unnecessary heat 24/7 just to make money. Economists blamed the failure to review tariffs for the scheme's demise.

Mr Sterling said: "I accept that a review did not take place in my time. I accept that in the business case it was said a review would take place in early 2014. I can't satisfactorily explain why the review didn't take place."

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