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RHI boiler owners granted leave to judicially review decision to publish names

The High Court granted leave to hundreds of Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) boiler owners to judicially review government plans to publish their names.

The RHI scheme was set up to encourage businesses and other non-domestic users to move from using fossil fuels to renewable heating schemes.  However, the contracts permitted users to financially profit from the schemes by enabling them to earn £1.60 for every £1 of fuel burned.  This led to many users burning fuel unnecessarily for the purpose of making a substantial profit.

The scheme has led to the collapse of the NI Assembly and could potentially cost taxpayers £490 million.  The Economy Minister decided that the names of those benefiting from the scheme could be publicly disclosed.  However, a group of RHI users sought and obtained an interim injunction preventing him from so doing until the matter could be decided.  They also launched proceedings in the High Court to judicially review the Minister’s decision.

Mr Justice Deeny held that a group of boiler operators have established an arguable case that the disclosure would breach privacy and data protection laws.  He stated that,

It may well be that the minister is perfectly entitled to publish the identities of these recipients, but it does seem to me a matter that justifies further investigation.’

The Court also confirmed that an interim injunction to prevent identification of over 500 members of RHI remains in force.  The issue as to whether any companies benefiting from the scheme ought to be disclosed is to be decided soon.

A full hearing is scheduled prior to the NI Assembly elections.

Read ITV news article here.

Disclosure, Private Information & Data Protection