UFU slam DfE actions over RHI

​The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) says approximately 130 participants of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) will be impacted by the outcome of the recent court hearing, confirming that the Department for Economy (DfE) acted unlawfully in its attempt to recover money from a farmer who is involved in the scheme.
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UFU president David Brown said: “The High Court’s finding on the RHI case is outrageous and it is almost a dead cert that there are cases of a similar nature, where participants have been made to repay money because they were allegedly abusing the scheme.

“We urge UFU members to seek legal advice as they will be impacted by this outcome.

“For many years, UFU members who entered the RHI scheme endured suspicion and have had accusations thrown at them.

UFU deputy president David Brown. (Pic: Cliff Donaldson)UFU deputy president David Brown. (Pic: Cliff Donaldson)
UFU deputy president David Brown. (Pic: Cliff Donaldson)

“Innocent parties were wrongly ejected from the scheme and forced to repay subsidies like the poultry farmer who contested the sanctions imposed on him which exposed the unlawful behaviour of DfE.

“Since the beginning of this scandal, we have stood by our farmers who endured false allegations and have been active in protesting their innocence. Vindication is needed for those members who were wrongly tarred with the same RHI brush of fraudulent behaviour.”

He continued: “Prior to this court hearing we raised questions about DfE’s competence, capacity and capability to manage the scheme. These were wrongly dismissed but now there is no doubt about DfE’s competence – it is completely shot.

“The RHI scandal is a huge setback for renewables in Northern Ireland and there is a strong case to be made for ‘levelling up’ support for green energy here. We now want to see ownership of the RHI scheme being removed from DfE and are in full support of RHANI in their call to the Secretary of State to pass legislation in Westminster that would transfer the resources and the authority to the national lead department in Whitehall.”

Meanwhile, TUV leader Jim Allister said he welcomes the successful outcome of the test case.“The Department of the Economy, which upheld the punitive Ofgem decisions against the farmer, has been found out on the elementary basis that Ofgem did not have the legal power to even seek recoupment.“This vindication by the High Court removes the aspersion that farmers behaved unlawfully in reducing their boiler usage once they became economically unviable.“Ofgem was deaf to all rational explanations and representations and arrogantly persisted in a ‘we know best’ attitude. I’m delighted they have been overruled.“I trust many other unfairly penalised farmers will now benefit from this ruling and that the department will act expeditiously in this regard.”