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

Part of Executive Committee Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 7:15 pm on 23rd January 2017.

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Photo of Máirtín Ó Muilleoir Máirtín Ó Muilleoir Sinn Féin 7:15 pm, 23rd January 2017

I would like to be more helpful tonight, but we are not there just yet. The area of concern remains that we do not have state aid approval. I know that the European Commission has been contacted, and I have some concerns in that regard. The scheme cannot kick off on 1 April without the state aid approval. That is an added difficulty for us, and we need to do more work in that regard. I am committed to speak to Colette Fitzgerald again tomorrow, and I hope that we can make some progress there.

As the Minister knows, there are also major concerns around the inspection regime. He will accept — I am sure it will be in his narrative later — that without rigorous, robust, 100% inspections, this interim solution will fall. I do not have a business plan for the inspections regime. I think that it is like a horse and carriage; both go together. I am confident that I am applying myself today, tomorrow and the day after that, if necessary. Without repeating what I have said previously, the assessment, as the Minister said, will not only be politics-free but will be accurate and will stand up. When I sign off on the business plan, I will be able to say not only to Members but to the public that it stacks up financially and legally and that I can have confidence that it will be implemented. In that regard, those two stumbling blocks remain. I hope that we can make progress on the lack of clarity around state aid and, of course, on the fact that I still do not have in my possession or on my desk a business plan to approve the inspection regime.