Belfast Telegraph

Action Renewables lodges 'serious incident report' over 'misleading' RHI claim

By Mark Edwards

A green energy organisation has lodged a serious incident report over claims it may have misled a Charity Commission investigation about its role in the RHI scheme.

Action Renewables, a registered charity, helps businesses switch from fossil fuels to green energy, and was involved in facilitating around a quarter of all applications to the botched green energy scheme.

Michael Doran, managing director of Action Renewables, admitted to the RHI inquiry on Wednesday the company knew from the outset the scheme was flawed but did not raise it with Stormont officials in case it led to a delay in the introduction of the scheme.

The RHI scheme was set up in 2012 to encourage the use of renewable energy in Northern Ireland but overgenerous subsidies led to a huge over spend.

In early 2017 the Charity Commission set up an investigation into Action Renewables following a report in the Irish News that Action Renewables was helping RHI applications even though it knew of the problems.

The investigation was closed by the commission after trustees of Action Renewables said they did not know about the problems with the scheme until December 2016.

Michael Doran

Sir Patrick Coghlin, chair of the RHI inquiry, said on Wednesday there was an "inescapable inference" Mr Doran had been misleading the commission.

Mr Doran responded: "It would appear from this document, yes." However, he denied any cover-up.

On Thursday Professor Brian Norton, chairman of Action Renewables, told the Belfast Telegraph: "We have already been in touch with the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland and lodged a serious incident report.

"The board has also briefed a legal specialist in charity law to conduct an independent review on its behalf and will fully cooperate with the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland on this review.”

On Thursday the Charity Commission said it was aware of Mr Doran's evidence to the RHI inquiry and that it will "carefully consider" it.

The RHI inquiry has heard Action Renewables earned nearly £250,000 by advising more than 500 RHI applicants.

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