Belfast Telegraph

DUP's Paisley lobbied for firm's late RHI bid, inquiry hears

By Staff Reporter

DUP MP Ian Paisley was among a group who lobbied an Ofgem official to accept a business's late application to the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme for lucrative tariffs, a public inquiry into the ill-fated initiative heard yesterday.

A witness statement from Ofgem's Terri Clifton, who helped monitor RHI scheme payments, was read out. It described how in November 2015 she took a call from a business seeking accreditation to the scheme.

It had missed the deadline for the higher rates and was set to be put on a less lucrative tariff which had just been introduced.

Ms Clifton told the inquiry she took a call over the case and was placed on speakerphone with a number of people. They included the applicants, their representatives Action Renewables - which provides renewable energy advice - DUP MP Ian Paisley and a person from Moy Park.

She said they all wanted her to accept the application onto a higher tariff for the applicants, McNaughtons.

Ms Clifton said she believed the "lobbying" was due to the risk of reputational damage to Action Renewables, which had taken over responsibility for the application and had not submitted it when the applicant thought it had. After some "backwards and forwards" the application was approved, but the witness statement did not say whether the business was approved for the higher or lower tariff payments.

The RHI scheme originally set out to encourage business owners to switch to green energy, offering financial incentives if firms switched to renewables. But it became mired in controversy after flaws meant claimants could profit by burning more biomass than needed.

Belfast Telegraph

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