Family of senior DUP politican have RHI scheme boilers

Jim Wells says he has no financial interest in the businesses

Jim Wells has revealed four family members have nine Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme wood pellet boilers installed on their farms. Photograph: NI Assembly/PA

Jim Wells has revealed four family members have nine Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme wood pellet boilers installed on their farms. Photograph: NI Assembly/PA

 

A senior DUP politician has revealed four family members have nine Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme wood pellet boilers installed on their farms.

A statement on Friday night from South Down MLA Jim Wells said he had only just been made aware that his brother, two cousins and the husband of another cousin have them.

Mr Wells explained his relatives are farmers rearing chickens for Moy Park Ltd based in Dungannon and that he had no financial interest in their businesses.

“My brother installed one boiler in September/October 2015 to heat his broiler shed,” a statement from Mr Wells said.

“In August 2014 my two cousins and the husband of a third cousin installed a combined total of eight boilers at three separate farms to heat their sheds. All of these farmers have been involved in poultry rearing for well over a decade and the wood pellet burners replaced existing heating systems,” he said.

“I have no financial interest whatsoever in any of these businesses, but I believe that was important that I make this information public as soon as I became aware of it.”

The RHI green energy programme is at the centre of the ‘cash for ash’ scandal which led earlier this month to the collapse of the government in the North.

There has been public outcry about the over generous terms of the scheme which means the farmers and businesses signed up to it are expected to receive £1.60 in subsidies for every £1 spent.

Northern Ireland’s RHI scheme was modelled on Britain’s scheme to encourage farmers and businesses to switch from fossil fuel systems to biomass heating systems such as wood-burning boilers. However, as there was no cap on usage in the Northern scheme, subsidies are committed to being paid out over the next two decades well in excess of the costs of buying renewable fuel.

Stormont parties are trying to find ways to minimise the expected £490m cost to the public purse.

A public inquiry into RHI is expected to be set up shortly.

A list of those signed up to the scheme is due to be published by Stormont next week.