Northern Ireland

RHI scandal: Names of business recipients to be published

Simon Hamilton
Image caption Officials from Simon Hamilton's department wrote to boiler owners asking them if they agreed to publication of their names

The Economy Minister, Simon Hamilton, has said his department will publish a list of businesses benefitting from the RHI scheme next week.

Mr Hamilton said there was a need for "complete openness and transparency" around the scheme and the naming of those who had benefited.

However, he said he was also mindful that he could only do so in "accordance with his legal obligations".

Some biomass boiler owners are opposed to their names being made public.

This is due to the negative publicity some businesses received after details of their biomass installations were made public.

Mr Hamilton said: "Last month, my department wrote to all of those participating in the non-domestic RHI scheme indicating my desire to publish recipients details.

"The department is currently analysing the responses received and are following a clear process as required under section 10 of the 1998 Data Protection Act.

Image copyright tchara
Image caption The Renewable Heat Incentive scheme is approximately £490m over budget

"The process will balance the competing interests of transparency and the right to privacy and protection in accordance with the law.

"I anticipate that the process will be concluded by the beginning of next week and it would be my intention to publish RHI recipient details on Wednesday 25 January."

The RHI scheme was flawed from the start offering overgenerous subsidies over 20 years.

A spike in applications in autumn 2015 led to an over commitment that could cost the Northern Ireland taxpayers up to £490m over 20 years.

The handling of the scandal has become a major political row that led to fresh Assembly elections being called by Secretary of State James Brokenshire.

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