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RHI Inquiry report to be published on March 13


Sir Patrick Coghlin (Colm Lenaghan/PA)

Sir Patrick Coghlin (Colm Lenaghan/PA)

PA Archive/PA Images

Sir Patrick Coghlin (Colm Lenaghan/PA)

The long-awaited report into the RHI scandal is to be published next month, it has been announced.

Sir Patrick Coghlin, who chaired the inquiry, will make a statement in Parliament Buildings at Stormont on Friday, March 13 following the publication of the report.

The public inquiry into the green energy scheme was set up to investigate how costs spiraled out of control. At one stage it was estimated the scheme would have a potential £400million overspend. It now has a projected underspend of around £400m after cost controls were introduced.

The inquiry heard of a litany of flaws in how RHI was devised, operated and managed, as well as claims over the impact and influence of political special advisers.

The RHI was launched and overseen when the DUP's Arlene Foster was the Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister in 2012.

The inquiry looked into the failure to introduce proper cost controls which were in a similar scheme in England.

At one stage the inquiry heard how it was thought all the money was coming from London and therefore "we could fill our boots", the inquiry was told one adviser said.

The scheme worked by paying applicants to change to renewable energy. However, the rate paid for the wood to fuel boilers was more than the cost of the fuel, leading to claims many applicants made profits simply by heating their properties.

The scandal led to the collapse of the power-sharing institutions in January 2017.

Figures recently published by the Department of Finance show that Stormont departments face a legal bill of around £5.5m.

This covers costs of legal representation and advice to those staff from Stormont departments who gave evidence to the inquiry.

The cost of the inquiry itself has been estimated at £6.7m.

The scandal rocked the DUP when Jonathan Bell- who was DETI minister between 2015 and 2016- took part in an explosive interview with Stephen Nolan in December 2016 about the scandal.

The inquiry began hearing oral evidence in November 2017 and finished hearing evidence in December 2018 after 111 days of sitting.

Belfast Telegraph