Belfast Telegraph

Foster wasn't aware of full costs of RHI scheme, inquiry told

By Staff Reporter

DUP leader Arlene Foster played an important part in the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), but did not fully know about its costs, the probe into the botched energy scheme has been told.

The RHI Inquiry heard yesterday from its junior counsel Donal Lunny about the former Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment's (DETI) choice of an RHI scheme.

Mr Lunny said that Fiona Hepper, director of DETI's renewable energy team, was recorded saying that "a monitoring committee would be established in respect of the budget".

He said the inquiry would work to establish whether such a committee was ever set up, adding that it appeared one wasn't.

Mr Lunny then turned to the former Enterprise Minister Mrs Foster, saying she clearly played an "important part in the process". He added that she was promised by the department that there would be appropriate scheduled reviews to the scheme.

But he went on to query whether she was ever made aware of the "stark difference between the challenge fund and RHI cost" and did not know fully the costs of the scheme.

Mr Lunny questioned whether Mrs Foster was provided with "accurate and comprehensive information", and also whether she was asking questions and "challenging or testing recommendations".

The RHI scheme sparked a political row that resulted in the collapse of Stormont in January. An inquiry into the matter was set up earlier this year to establish facts and probe why the scheme's costs spiralled.

It has now finished hearing opening statements.

It will resume on Tuesday, November 28 when it is scheduled to hear from a number of witnesses including a civil servant from the Department for the Economy.

Belfast Telegraph


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