The Ulster Farmers’ Union has welcomed reports that poultry and mushroom farmers have been cleared of any suggestion that they have misused the renewable heat incentive (RHI) scheme.
Chief executive, Wesley Aston says this confirms the case made from the outset by the UFU that farmers were being unfairly criticised, despite having installed boilers to reduce costs and meet pressure for greener credentials for what they produce.
The sectors were cleared in a report carried out by consultants PWC, and Mr Aston says the document is effectively a clean bill of health for key sectors of farming that installed the boilers.
“Those farmers who were criticised and who faced accusations of profiting at the taxpayer’s expense now deserve recognition that they were unfairly treated by some politicians and sections of the media. Farmers were deemed guilty until proved innocent – and that is exactly what this report has done,” said Mr Aston.
The UFU says this confirmation that people are operating in line with the scheme, and using boilers only to meet the needs of their business, has to raise questions about the arbitrary withholding of payments for many months.
“This would be understandable if there ever had been any suggestion that people were not complying with the agreements they signed with the government to enter the RHI programme.
“That has been demonstrated not to be the case, and we will be applying pressure to restore payments immediately, given that businesses are facing cash flow problems because of what is clearly now an unfair decision by officials,” he added.