RHI Oral Hearings to Start

02 November 2017

The Independent Public Inquiry into the Non Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) Scheme will begin its oral hearing sessions at 10.30 am on Tuesday 7 November 2017 in the Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings, Stormont Estate, Belfast.

The Inquiry’s Chairman, the Right Honourable Sir Patrick Coghlin, will commence proceedings with a short opening address.

Mr David Scoffield QC, Senior Counsel to the Inquiry, will then begin his opening statement which is expected to continue for most of the week.

In it he will address the context in which the Inquiry was established; its terms of reference; the way in which the Inquiry has conducted its work since it was established and the various themes which have emerged from the evidence gathered so far.

His statement will also include a summary of the RHI Scheme from its inception and design to its closure.  Mr Scoffield will set the scene for members of the public in order to help them understand what is likely to follow, and the key issues which the Inquiry will consider.

At the conclusion of Mr Scoffield’s address the legal representatives of the three Core Participants, the Department for the Economy, the Department of Finance and the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (more commonly referred to as “Ofgem”) will be invited by the Chairman to make short opening statements.

The establishment of the RHI Inquiry was formally announced in a statement to the Assembly on 24 January 2017 by the then Minister of Finance, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir and it began its work on 1 February 2017, the formal set up date.      

Since then over one million pages of documents, and more than 500 statutory notices have been issued to persons and organisations compelling the production of documents, and witness statements, as part of a massive evidence gathering process in preparation for the hearings.

The Inquiry expects to hear oral evidence from a range of witnesses during the course of the public evidence sessions.  These include technical and economic consultants, civil servants, Ministers and their special advisers and other bodies or organisations involved in the administration of the scheme.

The first witness is expected to be called to give evidence on Tuesday 28 November 2017.

The Inquiry’s hearings are open to the public and details of forthcoming proceedings will be published regularly on the Inquiry’s website.

A media briefing pack containing a summary of key information about the Inquiry will accompany this press release, and information may also be viewed in greater detail on the Inquiry website - www.rhiinquiry.org

Notes to Editors

General

  1. The RHI Inquiry was set up to investigate fully and report on the non-domestic renewable heating incentive scheme (the RHI Scheme).  This includes the investigation of the original design and implementation of the RHI scheme; the initial operation of the scheme; the circumstances relating to the imposition of cost controls in the scheme in late 2015, as well as the circumstances relating to the suspension of the scheme to new applicants in early 2016.
  2. The Inquiry’s Terms of Reference can be found on Inquiry website www.rhiinquiry.org

Media Arrangements

  1. All media requests should be directed to Deric Henderson, media advisor to the Inquiry.  He can be contacted at deric@derichendersonmedia.com or by phone on 07802 175350.  
  2. A broadcast feed of the Inquiry proceedings, with a short inbuilt delay, will be provided via the Inquiry website www.rhiinquiry.org   Playouts or extract clippings will not be available to broadcast outlets and online journalists.
  3. Full transcripts of the day-to-day proceedings will be made available via the RHI Inquiry website, as soon as is practical.
  4. Journalists attending the Inquiry who do not have formal media accreditation to Parliament Buildings, must report to the main reception area at Stormont to obtain a temporary media pass which must be handed back before departing.