Belfast Telegraph

Chief of RHI boiler owners' body 'unaware of abuse'

By Lauren Harte

The head of a firm representing boiler owners says he was not aware of abuse or profiteering from RHI until its closure was announced by Jonathan Bell.

Action Renewables (AR) managing director Michael Doran made the statement in evidence ahead of his appearance at the RHI Inquiry today.

The probe has previously been told that AR earned nearly £250,000 advising more than 500 RHI applicants.

Mr Doran said AR did not actively promote uptake of the scheme to individuals or businesses, but promoted its application service to facilitate installers and support the industry.

He said it responded to enquiries from customers after they had committed to buy a boiler, but had no involvement in assessing rates of return.

When contacted with a request for information on RHI, Mr Doran said AR would steer interested parties to the websites of Ofgem, the former Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (Deti) and NI Direct.

In December 2016 Mr Doran took part in a BBC Spotlight programme in which he outlined flaws in the scheme, but later said it would have been "ethically improper" to warn Stormont as it was "not our responsibility".

Mr Doran was previously chairman and sole director of the Renewable Heat Association of Northern Ireland (RHANI) until April 2017.

Last year he unsuccessfully tried to prevent more than 400 companies who benefited financially from the scheme being identified.

He told the RHI Inquiry: "AR was not aware that the scheme was resulting in actual instances of abuse or profiteering.

"Given that the national 'regulator' itself Ofgem was responsible for administering payments, AR did not become aware of overpayment of individuals or indeed over commitment of the entire budget until the announcement by the Economy Minister Jonathan Bell (early February 2016).

"It was announced that the scheme was over budget and that internal cost control measures were not present and that at least one whistleblower's warnings were not heeded."

Mr Bell announced the scheme would close on February 5, 2016.

However, the final closure did not happen until three weeks later on February 29.

Belfast Telegraph

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph