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Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2017

Part of Executive Committee Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 5:00 pm on 23rd January 2017.

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Photo of Justin McNulty Justin McNulty Social Democratic and Labour Party 5:00 pm, 23rd January 2017

Thank you. It is obvious that those checks and measures were removed; that is why we are in the present crisis.

Were no heads raised when farmers were installing five boilers to do the job of one? Who knew what and when? Boiler suppliers and fitters were laughing all the way to the bank, but now they have no business because the scheme was not set up in a sustainable manner, as it was in the UK.

The EU renewable energy directive sets a binding target of 20% final energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020. A major point to recognise is that that scheme was set up to ensure that the UK as a whole achieves the renewable heat targets required by 2020 under that EU directive. The UK is still required to meet those targets or else face fines. In the current frenzy to come up with a fix, which has been proposed by the people who caused the problem in the first place, we cannot lose sight of the fact that there is still a target to be achieved, or else the taxpayer will ultimately face EU fines for not achieving it. That point is being completely lost: this was a green scheme that has turned into a scheme deep in the red.

What is the current percentage of renewable heat against total heat? How much more is required to achieve the target by 2020? We need to ensure that the amendments to the scheme include a plan to achieve the targets. The SDLP voted against the amended scheme being closed down in February 2016. That was the amended scheme that should have been adopted in the first place; it was a scheme that incorporated caps and tiering to prevent abuse.

I know the propaganda machine of the party to my right is presenting this in a different way, twisting the truth to hide its incompetence as silent partners —