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Over 50 non-domestic RHI applicants in Strabane and district

Thursday, 19 January 2017

OVER 50 applicants to the non-domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme are based in Strabane and district, according to new information just released.

A regional breakdown of boilers installed under the lucrative scheme published by the BBC Nolan Show yesterday (Tuesday) shows that there is a total of 56 boilers locally.

Thirty-eight are in the Strabane BT82 postal code area and 18 in the BT81 area which covers Castlederg.

Omagh's BT78 post code has 82 and its BT79 code has 67, a total of 149. In all, the statistics show that the total of 2,128 recipients are split between commercial and farming interests. Around one third of these have post codes covering Tyrone.

Most companies on the controversial scheme are based in Mid-Ulster and North Antrim with most of the applications in post codes associated with the Dungannon and South Tyrone area; 342. A high number of the overall recipients are associated with the poultry industry.

The figures however don't reveal how many of the recipients submitted applications during the controversial spike period of September to November 2015.

A total of 984 applications were received during this time, just after the cut to the subsidy was announced and before it was implemented.

The botched heating scheme was set up by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) to encourage businesses and other non-domestic users to move from using fossil fuels to renewable heating systems.

However, flaws in setting the scheme's subsidy rate left it open to abuse as claimants could earn more cash the more fuel they burned. It could now end up carrying an estimated overspend of around £490m.

The scheme was set up in 2012 when Former First Minister Arlene Foster was Enterprise Minister.

She had consistently rejected demands from her partners in government (Sinn Féin) and other parties to relinquish her position to allow for an independent inquiry into the scheme.

The fall-out has caused upheaval at Stormont in recent weeks and matters finally came to a head on Monday when Sinn Féin failed to nominate a Deputy First Minister to replace the outgoing Martin McGuinness thereby causing the devolved Stormont institutions to collapse and resulting in a snap election being called for Thursday, March 2.

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