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RHI Inquiry: Imagine being scapegoats for 'Cash-for-ash' scandal - well, we are

Andrew Trimble


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'We signed up for DfE RHI.'

'We signed up for DfE RHI.'

'We signed up for DfE RHI.'

Imagine you have been a respectable, hard-working chicken farmer for the past 25 years.

Imagine the government encouraged you to partake in a renewable energy scheme which was "sold" to you as guaranteed, reliable, long-term, certain and offering a good return on your investment. Arlene Foster even wrote to your bank to ensure this.

Imagine that you decided to invest your savings and seek out loans in order to join this government-backed scheme.

Imagine the government subsequently had to admit that this "guaranteed" scheme had been mismanaged through their own incompetence and ignorance.

Imagine if the same government then insinuated that you were in the wrong. To deflect from their own failings, they decided to infer that you were abusing the scheme by publishing your name in the newspapers, listed your rebate payments for five years - and added the helpful note that you hadn't done anything wrong. Wink, wink.

Imagine they revealed the income you had received via the scheme, but neglected to reveal the massive investment and continued running costs borne by you and hadn't considered that you pay tax on that same rebate.

Imagine thinking that your family, friends, neighbours, church, pub and business acquaintances now looked at you as some type of fraudster involved in dishonest dealings.

Imagine if it led to sleepless nights, constant worry, unfounded shame, anxiety, regular visits to the GP and the long-term use of anti-depressants - all because you decided to partake in a scheme which was endorsed by the government.

Imagine if, due to the failings of the government, it was decided that your guaranteed returns would be decimated - not once, but twice - on the advice of the department that had created your nightmare.

You would no longer receive your guaranteed payments, but instead would receive barely enough to cover the additional electricity costs of running the system.

Imagine the department, in calculating your rebate, used a different formula and different statistics to those used by scheme administrators elsewhere in the UK or next door in the Republic of Ireland.

Imagine the anxiety you have, knowing that you will have to replace this vastly expensive, but no longer cost-effective, system with a gas equivalent that will pollute the atmosphere.

Imagine having to work out where this money is going to be found.

We don't have to imagine.

This is our reality.

We signed up for DfE RHI.

Andrew Trimble is executive chair of the Renewable Heat Association Limited.

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