Incentive scheme for renewable energy heating systems to be closed
A Stormont incentive scheme to encourage heating systems powered by renewable energy sources is set to be closed.
Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Jonathan Bell has announced his intention to end the domestic and non domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) schemes.
The initiatives provided support to businesses and homeowners keen to switch to eco-friendly heating sources.
RHI was launched to the non domestic sector in 2012 and extended to the domestic sector two years later.
Mr Bell said the available budget had been exhausted. "It is with great reluctance that I have had to announce my intention to close both RHI schemes," he said.
"Both schemes have been very successful with the non-domestic scheme in particular seeing significant uptake during the last 12 months and more so in the run up to the recent scheme changes introduced in November 2015. It is estimated that around 6% of NI's heating needs are now provided through renewable technologies. The Executive's target to achieve 4% renewable heat has been exceeded.
"However, this increased demand means the available budget for new applications has been exhausted. To meet RHI commitments for existing installations, significant levels of additional funding will have to be found from within the NI Executive's budget for the next five years to address the current deficit. To prevent further overspend I must bring forward legislation to the Assembly to close both schemes to new applications.
"My department will also be carrying out a comprehensive review and audit, to ensure that the operation of the schemes is strictly in compliance with the scheme requirements and the underpinning legislation."