The Ulster Farmers’ Union says that current proposals from the Department for the Economy (DfE) to deal with financial difficulties among Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) participants are inadequate.
The UFU has submitted a response to the DfE’s Call for Evidence on the establishment of a unit within the department to examine cases of hardship among RHI claimants.
Commenting afterwards, UFU deputy president Victor Chestnutt said: “In our submission, we reiterated the view that the proposals as they currently stand are nothing more than a sticking plaster. Analysis of European Union regulations suggests that the only assistance on offer is a six-month loan at commercial rates. This would involve recipients, who are already under financial pressure, having to commit to more debt which makes no sense.”
Mr Chestnutt says that farmers have no confidence or trust in DfE as department officials continue to dismiss the serious situation that many farming families are now in due to RHI – their livelihoods are at stake.
“In the supporting documentation, DfE would appear to fail to grasp the exact nature of the hardship being faced by RHI recipients and we made this clear. RHI participants are being made the scapegoats for the failings of government. They entered into a government scheme in good faith and were essentially sold out,” he said.
“As well as other reservations, we voiced our concerns at any possibility that the chair and panel of the proposed unit may be appointed by DfE.
“We stressed that members of this panel should not have had any connection with DfE either presently or historically,” Mr Chestnutt added.