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Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme

Oral Answers to Questions — Economy – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:15 pm on 25th October 2016.

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Photo of Robbie Butler Robbie Butler UUP 3:15 pm, 25th October 2016

T3. Mr Butler asked the Minister for the Economy, in view of the scandal around the renewable heat debacle, to outline the procedures he has implemented to prevent a similar occurrence. (AQT 408/16-21)

Photo of Simon Hamilton Simon Hamilton DUP

I know that the Member is new to the House and will be unfamiliar with the convention that whenever issues are being examined and scrutinised by the PAC and the Audit Office, it is inappropriate for Ministers and Members to pass comment on them. It is an issue that I take seriously; there are lessons to be learned and we must learn lessons from the RHI issue, but as well as learning those lessons, I am focused on trying to deal with, and control, the issue as best I possibly can.

Photo of Robbie Butler Robbie Butler UUP

Thank you, Minister, for your graciousness in saying that I am new to the House —

[Laughter.]

That can only happen once or twice. Can the Minister assure us, with the rush to install wind energy before the renewables obligation certificate (ROC) expiry in March 2017, that he has personally ensured that all appropriate measures have been taken so that nobody receives a subsidy for electricity that is not delivered to the grid by that date?

Photo of Simon Hamilton Simon Hamilton DUP

Obviously, closure was brought to the Northern Ireland renewables obligation, but there are grace periods for certain circumstances. It is imperative that the Department, the regulator and others involved ensure that strict hard stops in respect of it all are kept in place and that nobody is benefiting from it who should not be doing so.