Foster blames officials for RHI debacle

Posted By: April 12, 2018

John Monaghan. Irish News. Belfast. Thursday, April 12, 2018

DUP leader Arlene Foster, who was in charge of the department which set up the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme, has laid the blame for oversights on the botched green energy project at the door of her officials.

Mrs. Foster who was the Minister for Enterprise, Trade, and Investment (DETI) from 2008 until 2015, is due to give evidence today at the public inquiry into the debacle.

The RHI scheme paid out more in subsidies to boiler owners than it cost to heat, and is estimated to have an overspend of £700 million over 20 years.

It was one of the key factors in the collapse of power-sharing between the DUP and Sinn Féin, forcing Mrs. Foster out of her position as the first minister in January last year.

In a written statement provided to the inquiry, Mrs. Foster writes: “I would have expected officials to draw any significant or material changes affecting my prior decision to proceed to consult on an NI RHI directly to my attention [before] a submission. This was not done.”

There are contradictions between Mrs. Foster’s written statement and evidence given by Fiona Hepper, the former head of the energy division within DETI, at a hearing of the inquiry in February.