Belfast Telegraph

Government's renewable heat incentive scheme extended after outcry over closure

By Margaret Canning

Government scheme the renewable heat incentive (RHI) has been extended until the end of this month following outcry over its sudden closure, it's just been announced.

Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell has said the scheme, which was open to homes and businesses, would now stay open until February 29, 13 days later than expected.

The scheme was shut abruptly in an unexpected announcement by the Minister last Friday. Andrew McCormick the permanent secretary from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, told the ETI committee this week that there was a £30m shortfall in the scheme following a surge in applications, with 900 received over a six week period.

But the closure prompted an outcry from renewable businesses and farmers, which have invested in technology on the understanding they'd receive funding for the renewable energy measures.

The Minister said: “I have listened carefully to the concerns expressed in relation to both the non domestic and domestic RHI schemes and I fully appreciate that closure presents considerable difficulties for those who have invested in new technology and are in the midst of preparing for application. 

"Having taken those concerns on board, rather than close the schemes to new applications on the earliest possible date, I am proposing that, pending Assembly approval, both schemes remain open for a further two weeks until February 29."

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