Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Million pound RHI winner is a Free Presbyterian elder Jonathan McAuley

By Christopher Woodhouse

This is the engineering firm boss set to benefit twice from the botched Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme.

Jonathan McAuley, who owns the Co Antrim based McAuley Engineering, has four wood pellet boilers at his Ballymoney works which will see the company cash in to the tune of £960,000.

There is also an RHI scheme wood pellet boiler at Hebron Free Presbyterian church, of which he is an elder, that will see the church reap £270,000 in savings and grants over 20 years.

Former DUP minister and north North Antrim MLA Mervyn Storey is also an elder at the same church and has visited Mr McAuley’s factory on a number of occasions including earlier this year with First Minister Arlene Foster.

There is no suggestion that either Mr McAuley or the church are abusing the scheme but they have benefitted from the flawed scheme’s generous terms.

Mr McAuley has previously provided testimonials about the RHI scheme, both on behalf of his firm and the church, to boiler supplier Solmatix Renewables.

The statements (below) were previously published on Solmatix’s website but have since been removed although cached versions remain available online.

Of his multi-million pound company’s boilers he said: “We were attracted to biomass for two reasons. The RHI incentives, which make it highly cost effective, and its environmental credentials, which mean we can substantially reduce our carbon footprint.”

His company is paid £38,000 a year in grants from the RHI scheme and will save £10,000 a year on oil, netting it £960,000 over 20 years.

The firm produces components for the likes of Lear Jet aircraft, the petrochemical industry and the New Routemaster bus, made by Wrightbus.

On behalf of Hebron Free Presbyterian Church, he said: “We recognised that biomass would meet all our heating requirements for the church and free up around £10,000 a year for us to use in other mission works.”

The Ballymoney church is paid £12,500 per year in grants and will save £1,000 every year on oil which amounts to £270,000 in payments and savings over the life of the scheme.

When contacted by Sunday Life last night Mr McAuley refused to comment on whether he was a DUP supporter and declined to discuss the RHI scheme.

Last week, Reverend David Park said the church had decided to give at least £5,000 a year to charitable causes in light of the financial benefits of installing a boiler under the scheme.

He also said that Mr Storey had nothing to do with the church’s decision to install an RHI scheme boiler and that it was another elder who had suggested applying to the scheme.

First Minister Arlene Foster, who introduced the RHI scheme when she was enterprise minister, has visited McAuley Engineering on at least two occasions.

In 2012, she visited the plant in her capacity as enterprise minister, the same year she brought in the hugely costly scheme.

Mrs Foster went back to the factory in February this year where she met with Mr McAuley and Mervyn Storey.

In 2010, then DUP leader and First Minister Peter Robinson along with Mr Storey opened McAuley Engineering’s new plant. Mr Storey recently cited McAuley Engineering as an example of successful industry. He told the Assembly in October: “His late father, whom I knew well, Albert McAuley, a man of huge integrity, said to Jonathan, ‘Now, see what you can do with that’. Last year, Jonathan’s company recorded a turnover in excess of £10 million.

Online Editors

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph