Can't see this covered anywhere else. This story should be huge. Major f**k-up by Arlene...why aren't the Shinners all over this like a rash?? http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-38229535
"Serious systematic failings" in a Stormont-run renewable energy scheme are likely to hit the Northern Ireland budget by "hundreds of millions of pounds", the Audit Office has said.
The Renewable Heat Incentive scheme was run by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI). The Audit Office said £140m could be taken from the region's block grant from the Treasury to plug the deficit. The economy minister said the findings were "deeply shocking". The scheme was set up to encourage businesses and domestic users to switch to biomass heating systems, mostly burning wood pellets. More than £1bn of public money is due to be paid out over the next 20 years as a result of it. The investigation was prompted when a whistleblower contacted the Northern Ireland Executive in January alleging that the scheme was being abused.
One of the claims was that a farmer was aiming to collect about £1m over 20 years from the scheme for heating an empty shed. The whistleblower also claimed large factories that had previously not been heated were using the scheme to install boilers with the intention of running them throughout the year to collect about £1.5m over 20 years.
Kieran Donnelly, the auditor general, said there was "no upper limit on the amount of energy that would be paid for". "The more heat that is generated, the more is paid," he said. In one example cited by the report, a business taking part in the same scheme in Great Britain could collect about £192,000 over 20 years by using a boiler all year round, but a Northern Ireland firm doing the same could earn £860,000. Mr Donnelly said the scheme had "serious systematic failings from the start". DETI has since been renamed as the Department of the Economy. The current minister Simon Hamilton (DUP) said ongoing costs of the scheme to taxpayers were "incredible". "Opportunities were missed to remedy the situation" by those "directly responsible for administering the scheme," he said.
"External consultants are already being appointed to conduct on-the-spot and thorough inspections of installations to ensure they meet the spirit and letter of the scheme," he said.http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-38248147
Interestingly Simon Hamilton tried to block the publication of the report earlier in the year.