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Omagh postal code in top five RHI applications

Thursday, 19 January 2017

AN OMAGH postal code has been identified in the top five RHI (Renewable Heat Incentive) applications list in Northern Ireland, it has been revealed.

The BT78 area code was listed in figures released yesterday (Tuesday) which appear to indicate that the controversial scheme attracted a total of 149 non-domestic applicants with postcodes from the Omagh area, of which the BT78 area accounted for 82.

Approximately one-third or 725 of the overall 2,128 recipients across the province had postcodes associated with Co. Tyrone.

A regional breakdown of installations shows the biggest cluster is around Dungannon.There are 342 boilers there - about one-in-six of the total.

The information, which came to light on the Stephen Nolan Show on BBC Radio Ulster, also associated a high number of the recipients within the poultry industry.

However it doesn't explain how many of the recipients submitted applications during the controversial spike period of September to November 2015. A total of 984 applications were received during this time, just after the cut to the subsidy was announced and before it was implemented.

The 984 applications added significantly to the overall cost, which has been put at 490m over the next 20 years.

The RHI scheme, which is being cited as a contributory factor for causing the current political fall out and subsequent Assembly election, was set up in November 2012, by the Northern Ireland Executive to help to increase consumption of heat from renewable sources.

It was run by then Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI). The DETI minister at the time was the now First Minister, Arlene Foster. It is now under the remit of the Department for the Economy and its minister, the DUP's Simon Hamilton.

The RHI offered a financial incentive for businesses and other non-domestic users to install renewable heat systems on their premises. Those systems included biomass boilers, mostly burning wood pellets, as well as solar thermal and heat pumps.

Northern Ireland Executive ministers wanted 4% of heat to come from renewables by 2015, with a further target of 10% by 2020.

However flaws in setting the scheme's subsidy rate left it open to abuse as claimants could earn more cash the more fuel they burned, with the overspend estimated to be about 490m.

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