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Jobs risk if the plug is pulled on heating initiative

By Linda Stewart

Published 06/02/2016

Reluctant: Jonathan Bell
Reluctant: Jonathan Bell

More than 2,000 jobs could be affected if plans by Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell to shut down the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) schemes go ahead.

RHI was launched to the non-domestic sector in November 2012 and extended to the domestic sector in December 2014.

Last night, Mr Bell said it was with "great reluctance" he had to announce his intention to close both RHI schemes. The non-domestic scheme has seen a 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," Mr Bell said.

John Martin, spokesman for Biomass Energy NI, said it has been estimated that there are more than 2,000 people employed in the biomass sector alone.

"At a time when the local agricultural industry is under pressure, the biomass sector has been seen as a way for local farm businesses to diversify and move into an area that is a bit more profitable. This will have a knock on effect," he warned.

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