Belfast Telegraph

Public consultation on future of controversial RHI scheme

Plans for the future of the scandal hit Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) have been sent out for public consultation.

The Department for Economy has outlined eight options ranging from shutting the controversial scheme down and buying out participants to reverting to lucrative tariffs.

There is also proposals to keep the scheme running at the existing reduced tariff levels or cut them even further.

It emerged on Thursday the DoE inadvertently revealed hundreds of claimants’ email addresses to each other, potentially outing some RHI claimants not yet named, when they emailed the consultation out to all RHI claimants.

A DoE spokesperson said: “The Department is aware of the issue and is taking steps to address it.”

The RHI scandal, also known as Cash for Ash, exposed the public purse to an overspend of almost £500 million, after the then-Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment Arlene Foster failed to introduce proper cost controls.

This led to members of the RHI scheme making huge profits from the flawed green energy scheme.

The scandal led to the collapse of the Executive with the then Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness resigning in protest.

A public inquiry has been launched to investigate why cost controls were not introduced.

A spokesperson for the DoE said: "This consultation seeks the views of key stakeholders, participants and the individual citizen on proposals for the long-term future of the scheme and includes a range of tariff options.

"The consultation is a fundamentally important part of the process in determining future arrangements for the non-domestic RHI Scheme and is open until 5pm on Thursday 6 September 2018. These arrangements are expected to be in place by April 2019."

The proposal are available on the DoE's website and the consultation will run for 12 weeks.

It will be early next year before a final option is chosen and it will then need ministerial approval.

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