Non-domestic RHI: Proposals

Oral Answers to Questions — Economy – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:15 pm on 29 April 2024.

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Photo of Steve Aiken Steve Aiken UUP 3:15, 29 April 2024

T6. Dr Aiken asked the Minister for the Economy to outline his proposals to replace the non-domestic renewable heat incentive (RHI) scheme. (AQT 236/22-27)

Photo of Conor Murphy Conor Murphy Sinn Féin

The Member will be aware that a previous Executive committed, as part of an agreement, to closing the RHI scheme. I have put forward proposals to the Executive to do just that. I hope that the Executive will deal with that in the not-too-distant future. We have a situation where the scheme is not delivering its intended outcomes in carbon reduction. As I said, there was an agreement among the parties to close the scheme. I hoped that that would be done in a previous mandate, but it has now landed with me to clear up that particular mess. My intention — I have already brought this matter to the Executive's attention — is to close the scheme, consult on the best way forward to do that and try to get access to the funding that we have missed out on over the years to get better schemes in place.

Photo of Steve Aiken Steve Aiken UUP 3:30, 29 April 2024

Thank you very much, Minister. Have you done any costings on how much the closure would cost?

Photo of Conor Murphy Conor Murphy Sinn Féin

Costings have been done, but they need to be bottomed out. Part of the paper that we brought to the Executive will do that. The Executive need to be agreeable to bringing the scheme to a close, and we will then put that forward. We have no doubt that it will be a matter of some debate and discussion. We have a sense of the cost. Bear in mind that the scheme was funded through annually managed expenditure (AME); it was not funded through our block grant. We have a sense of the cost to close down the scheme over a number of years while ensuring that those in the scheme are treated fairly. We also have a sense of what we are missing out on, in that we could be spending on schemes that would contribute to net zero.