Friday 28 April 2017

Half of Moy Park suppliers availed of 'Cash for Ash' scheme

A total of 984 applications were received, almost as many as those submitted in the previous 34 months (Stock picture)
A total of 984 applications were received, almost as many as those submitted in the previous 34 months (Stock picture)

Simon Rowe

Half of all poultry farmers who supply Irish food processing giant Moy Park availed of the controversial Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme, documents released by the North's Department of Finance reveal.

A total of 350 poultry farmers who supply the North's largest firm are believed to have taken advantage of the 'Cash for Ash' scheme, many of whom applied after plans were announced to cut the subsidy, but before they took effect.

The botched RHI green scheme saw a surge in demand for poultry shed heating systems as it became massively oversubscribed leading to a £490m (€568m) budget overrun.

A huge spike in non-domestic RHI applications occurred from September to November 2015 after officials announced curbs.

A total of 984 applications were received, almost as many as those submitted in the previous 34 months.

Although entirely legal, firms receive more in subsidies than they pay for renewables.

Documents show that senior government officials dispute Moy Park's claims at a January meeting that the poultry sector was not to blame for a spike in applicants.

In a memo to officials after the meeting, Stephen McMurray, the Department of the Economy's RHI taskforce leader, wrote: "Full details of the spike in applications were sent to you on January 16. This clearly contradicts Moy Park's assertion that the poultry industry did not have a significant impact on the spike."

A Moy Park spokesman said: "In those meetings , we made it clear our assumption was based on limited information as we did not have access to official data."

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