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Economy Minister Diane Dodds today announced that the Executive has agreed to the launch of a consultation on options for the future of the Non-Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) Scheme, including its potential closure.

Speaking as the consultation opened, the Economy Minister Diane Dodds said: “The Executive’s preferred option would see the Non-Domestic RHI Scheme closed, in line with New Decade, New Approach, with compensation paid to participants. I have always been clear that any decision on the future of the RHI scheme must be fair to both the taxpayer and to the scheme’s legitimate participants who invested in good faith. The preferred option seeks to meet these objectives. In due course, new support for renewable heat would be brought forward.”

Following budgetary concerns the Non-Domestic RHI Scheme was suspended to new applicants on 29 February 2016. It currently remains operational for accredited installations, with tariffs supporting generation of renewable heat for a period of 20 years and final payments expected in 2036.

The consultation seeks views on four options. Under the Executive’s preferred option the scheme would be closed with compensation paid to legitimate current participants. The level of compensation would depend on the type and size of each individual installation and the period of time remaining on the scheme. It would also take account of any monies due to be recouped by the Department. The total cost of this option is estimated to be £68.4m. By way of example, a 99kW biomass installation – the most common on the scheme – would be eligible for payment of up to £35,500.

The Department has also published the Consultation Report on the 2020 Tariff Review. The outworking of this has been considered in the development of the options for the future of the scheme.

The Minister went on to say: “The final decision on the future of the scheme rests with the Executive, so I have held full and detailed discussions with my Executive colleagues to agree the preferred option. I would like to thank my Ministerial colleagues for their engagement.

“I would encourage everyone with an interest in the future of this scheme to have their say by taking part in the consultation process.”

The consultation process closes at 5pm on April 9, 2021