The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme could cut greenhouse gas emissions in NI by up to 7% by 2030, according to calculations by DAERA officials.

The figure is contained within a letter sent to Finance Minister Conor Murphy last year by Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots. In the letter, Minister Poots expresses his opposition to plans to close the RHI scheme for all existing participants.

“Closure of the scheme will be damaging to the environment; and there is unlikely to be significant uptake of a future scheme, given the handling of this scheme,” he said.

RHI tariffs were originally to be paid to scheme participants for 20 years, but a cross-party commitment was given in the New Decade, New Approach deal in January 2020 to shut the scheme down.

Any move to close the scheme must now come from the Department for the Economy, who is headed up by Minister Poots’ DUP colleague Gordon Lyons. A public consultation on the future of RHI closed for responses in April 2021.

“Responses received during the consultation process are informing a paper which the Minister (Gordon Lyons) intends to bring to the Executive for a decision on the future of the scheme,” a department spokesperson said.