Northern Ireland

RHI scandal: Farmer fears boiler owners will be demonised

John Gilliland
Image caption Boiler owner John Gilliland expects to be one of the few to go public

RHI scheme boiler owners are at risk of demonisation if their details are published, says a former president of the Ulster Farmers' Union.

John Gilliland also warned the government against tearing up the contracts of those who signed up to the flawed Renewable Heat Incentive.

"They're scared of being victimised, of being made a pariah," he told the BBC.

Tuesday is the deadline for those on the scheme to say if their details can be published by the department.

When it comes to renewable energy, few can boast a track record like him.

Mr Gilliland installed his first biomass boiler at his Londonderry farm 30 years ago and now supplies wood chip from his willow crop for boilers all over Northern Ireland.

He has three boilers drying wood chip around the clock, for which he gets paid £80,000 a year from the RHI scheme, £30,000 of which is profit which he says he uses to pay off debts from his renewable investments.

Image caption Mr Gilliland supplies wood chip from his willow crop for boilers all over Northern Ireland

John Gilliland expects to be one of the few to go public and he has warned the government against taking money from those like him who signed up in good faith.

A spokesperson for the Department for the Economy said: "The Department is currently compiling the responses received and the Minister will consider, in conjunction with legal advice, the most appropriate course of action."

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