‘Reinstate heating funds’ call

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South Down Independent Unionist MLA, John McCallister has demanded that DETI Minister Jonathan Bell takes immediate action to reinstate the availability of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) up to 31st March 2016 as originally planned.

In a statement Mr McCallister said, “I was very concerned to hear that the Minister for the Enterprise , Trade and Industry, has decided to close the Renewable Heat Incentive in Northern Ireland.

“Companies were told last year that the RHI would run until the end of March this year and subsequently planned and committed investment accordingly.

“The sudden announcement and subsequent confusion to the industry, by his announcement to cease the scheme early will have a serious impact on many local companies, as well as the agri-food industry and will inevitably result in significant job losses and insolvencies.

“Consumers and businesses who have committed already to installing renewable heat systems, whether solar, biomass or heat pumps, will also be affected by the early closure and this is simply unacceptable.

“This uncertainty creates very difficult cash flow problems for those companies in the supply chain.

“I have spoken with the Minister on this serious matter and I am demanding that he takes immediate action and ensures the RHI remains open up to the original date of 31st March.

“I am also urging him to investigate the possibility of applying a cap on unit usage retrospectively so that savings can be made, allowing more people to access the scheme.

“DETI has spent it’s budget for renewable energy but has only achieved 30% of the installations it was estimated to achieve.

“I am asking the Minister to engage with his counterparts in GB to discuss the possibility of sharing out unspent funds as uptake in England was significantly lower than NI.

This would help the UK as a whole meet the requirements of the European Renewable Energy Directive”.