Belfast Council backs call for inquiry into RHI

Belfast City Council has passed a motion calling on Whitehall to launch a full public inquiry into the ‘shambolic’ renewable heat incentive (RHI) scheme, set to run £490 million over its budget.

The RHI scheme, set up in 2012 by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, was designed to incentivise non-domestic users to move from using fossil fuels to renewable heating systems.

However, the way RHI was set up in Northern Ireland has meant the initiative has gone £490m over budget. Under the stewardship of now First Minister Arlene Foster the subsidies offered on the scheme were greater than the cost of the fuel.

The motion was proposed by independent councillor Ruth Patterson who asked councillors to note the ‘serious public concern … in relation to financial squander’.

The motion was passed by 23:12 votes in favour.

A government spokesman said: "The operation of the RHI scheme is a matter for the Northern Ireland Executive. So it is right for the executive and the assembly to decide the form of any investigation or inquiry."