Belfast Telegraph

Department was given 'robust warnings' of RHI's weaknesses

By Staff Reporter

A lawyer for the energy regulator Ofgem told the RHI Inquiry yesterday that it had given the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment "robust warnings" about the weakness of its draft regulations.

He said this included advice about people using multiple small boilers to earn maximum subsidy.

Jason Beer QC said Ofgem had offered the advice a year before the scheme was introduced, but said that there was no evidence it had been followed.

"Ofgem had the benefit of foresight and pointed out the risks," Mr Beer added.

He said the energy body had warned DETI that there were big holes in its proposed scheme, which left it open to abuse and warned it not to proceed.

Earlier, a lawyer for the Department of the Economy said there had been a "conspiracy of silence" around the controversial RHI scheme, the inquiry heard yesterday.

Counsel for the department, Neasa Murnaghan QC, said the department wanted to repeat its apology for failings, including a lack of cost controls in the original regulations and the failure to spot that application numbers and boiler usage were diverging from projections.

Later, counsel for the Department of Finance, Christine Smith QC, said that had its officials been aware of advice from Ofgem at the inception of the scheme, they would not have approved the DETI business case for thje RHI scheme without seeking further clarity.

Belfast Telegraph

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