Skip to content

UK Taxpayers Face £1 Billion Bill over Green Energy Scandal

January 4, 2017

By Paul Homewood




Breitbart report on the latest green energy scandal in Northern Ireland:


A green energy scandal that is saw people heating empty buildings just to collect government grants could cost British taxpayers more than £1 billion.

The UK Treasury faces a huge bill after spending on Northern Ireland’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) went out of control, with businesses installing otherwise useless biomass heaters just to profit from the scheme.

The RHI was championed by Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster back in 2012 when she was minister in charge of business and enterprise. There are now calls for her to resign over the fiasco.

The scheme was supposed to cost £25 million in its first five years, but will now likely be closer to £1.15 billion over 20 years. Around £660 million will have to be funded by taxpayers in the rest of the UK after ministers failed to cap costs, The Times reports.

Under the scheme, businesses could receive £160 for every £100 they spent on biomass fuels such as wood pellets. As businesses realised the profits they could make, there was a huge uptake and costs soon went out of control.

Finally, a whistle-blower exposed how businesses were purchasing biomass boilers just to collect the grant. One farmer in particular expected to make £1 million heating an empty shed, while another person hoped to make £1.5 million heating empty factories.

A similar scheme exists in the rest of the UK, but with much stricter spending controls. Northern Ireland’s Auditor-General, Kieran Donnelly, calculates that under that scheme a business could receive £192,000 over 20 years if it runs a boiler all year round. A similar business in Northern Ireland, however, could get £860,000.

Such is the outrage over the scandal that Mrs Foster’s political future is now in doubt. She survived a no-confidence motion last month, but new letters have come to light showing how she encouraged banks to “look favourably” on loan applications.

Martin McGuiness, the Deputy First Minister and leader of Sinn Fein, may now resign, causing the Northern Ireland government to collapse and triggering new elections.

A study in 2014 found that biomass may in fact be worse for the environment than fossil fuels, as the wood pellets used are often imported from North America, creating a bigger carbon footprint and contributing to deforestation in the United States.


Unfortunately, this is just the sort of thing that happens when you throw money at a problem for political ends.

  1. Joe Public permalink
    January 4, 2017 1:56 pm

    An outcome *nobody* could have foreseen. 😉

  2. January 4, 2017 2:05 pm

    Anybody with even the smallest brain would realise that if you give people £160 for every £100 they spend, then it will be a runaway scam. The woman tried to claim on the lunchtime news that she is being blamed for the fiasco because she is a woman. No, she is being blamed because she is a cretin (or in on the scam).

  3. January 4, 2017 2:11 pm

    Reblogged this on Wolsten and commented:
    Even the most dim-witted politicians should have see this one coming. In summary – wasting over £1B of tax payers money to heat empty buildings and generating more, rather than less, CO2 emissions. FFS.

    • Tom O permalink
      January 4, 2017 2:23 pm

      Actually, I would have to assume that in truth, it was planned. Only a dim-witted public doesn’t bother to pay attention to what their politicians do. You can blame the Pols for this, but they are just like everyone else, looking to see what they can get out of it. I would expect most that pushed this would have “side ventures” profiting from it.

      But the fault does not lay with the politicians, the fault lies with those that put them there without bothering to exercise their own responsibility of oversight. This is the same for every program that government develops. It is the responsibility of the people to put ‘the fear of the people” into their politicians, and back it up with recalls, or what have you. If you are the farmer and you have put the fox in charge of the henhouse and never check to see what happens, if you run out of chickens, it’s your own damn fault.

      • roger permalink
        January 4, 2017 3:36 pm

        In this case it seems that farmers amongst others are the foxes in the hen house, just as they appear to be the beneficiaries of government handouts of our taxes for direct and indirect participation in almost every green scheme that parliament has enacted.
        The robber barons of the dark ages seem always to have been with us, morphing over time into the denizens of the HoL today. At the same time the poor have always been and remain with us – coincidence? Your call.
        All I know is that in thirty years of running my manufacturing business and exporting around the world, the only govt aid that I received was £360 towards an export drive I arranged for USA, half the cost of a flight to San Francisco.
        I did of course throughout that time pay eye watering amounts of various taxes on a monthly and annual basis.
        All subsidies corrupt and rarely achieve more than sustaining poor business leaders with poor business models.
        It is unsurprising that their morals are questionable too.

  4. January 4, 2017 2:18 pm

    Some cheery news on the subsidy front, though it may just be a scare story for Guardian Readers, a call to man the barricades:

    • January 4, 2017 3:21 pm

      That is good news for the environment and for consumers, particularly those in fuel poverty. Even better news would be that renewable energy facilities were being dismantled and proper power stations were being built. Come on Grauniad, you can do it.

  5. HotScot permalink
    January 4, 2017 2:30 pm


    now a failed eco-terrorist.

  6. Max Sawyer permalink
    January 4, 2017 2:40 pm

    For political reasons (the buying off of terrorists/peace at any price) the Northern Ireland government and its business initiatives are not subject to the same scrutiny as is the remainder of the UK. Such financial scandals are far from unknown there – remember DeLorean?

  7. Green Sand permalink
    January 4, 2017 2:53 pm

    Somebody needs to be a long term resident in an unheated prison cell!

    • david permalink
      January 4, 2017 6:26 pm

      No, AGW would make it too comfortable after a decade or two.

  8. Alan Davidson permalink
    January 4, 2017 4:41 pm

    There’s always been inventive government handouts in N. Ireland. Was it pigs or sheep that they used to drive back and forth over the border for some EU-related reason?

    • Graeme No.3 permalink
      January 4, 2017 6:25 pm

      Pigs. A subsidy based on ‘export’. (It was necessary to bring the pigs back by another road.)

  9. John F. Hultquist permalink
    January 4, 2017 6:52 pm

    After WWII, suggestions for projects were vetted via a series of sessions with “experts” so as to get lots of ideas of what might work, what might not, and how things could go wrong. It is called the Delphi Method:

    One doesn’t hear that term now but, instead, folks are called “futurists” and do futurology.

    Ford Motor has Sheryl Connelly, Manager, Global Consumer Trends and Futuring

    Who knew?
    Anyway, it seems governments do not do this sort of thing — maybe because it prevents setting up schemes to look green while wasting other people’s money.

  10. David Richardson permalink
    January 4, 2017 7:03 pm

    RHI makes solar feed-in tariffs look completely sane. Well I won a couple of “letter of the month” awards *** in selfbuild magazines about 5 years ago by pointing out how stupid the Renewable Heat Insanity was. The more you used, the more you got paid. It wasn’t even based on how much you actually used, but how much their “model” said your house would use. – and once the rate was set, it was set for the whole period.

    *** The prizes totalled £200 – but I give a firm undertaking that no subsidies were claimed.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: