Jim Wells statement on family connections and RHI

Interesting statement from Jim Wells today. For context, his relatives appear to have been associated with a huge expansion in capacity by Moypark (an economic success story). Moypark had previously announced an expansion of some 400 new chicken houses, most of which you would guess, are taking advantage of the local RHI scheme just as their growers in Britain still do.

‘Today I received information from a relative which indicated that four members of my family have installed wood pellet boilers under the RHI Scheme’.

‘All of these relatives are farmers who rear chickens for Moy Park Ltd based in Dungannon’.

‘My brother installed one boiler in September/October 2015 to heat his broiler shed. In August 2014 my two cousins and the husband of a third cousin installed a combined total of 8 boilers at three separate farms to heat their sheds’.

‘All of these farmers have been involved in poultry rearing for well over a decade and the wood pellet burners replaced existing heating systems’.

‘ I have no financial interest whatsoever in any of these businesses but I believe that was important that I make this information public as soon as I became aware of it’.

Mr Wells statement is testimony to the fever around this story. The Moypark growers scheme would have been subject to a “fast-track planning approval process, together with DETI and DFP’s Agri-Food Loan Scheme.”

But it should be noted that, in general, the scandal is not likely to extend to farmers who are using the scheme to grow livestock. Since animals cannot take overheating*, the thermostats kick in and the heating shuts down.

Hence the timely warning from the SDLP’s Nichola Mallon that people should be careful in running to hasty conclusions and damaging legitimate businesses.

Now we, finally, have a Public Inquiry on the roll, maybe people will calm down, wait for a fuller report: and prepare for our upcoming election to nowhere other than whence we came

* See this caveat from Madra Uisce below, and, particularly the point s/he makes about ventilation.

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  • Jag

    “Hence the timely warning from the SDLP’s Nichola Mallon that people should be careful in running to hasty conclusions and damaging legitimate businesses.”

    If businesses are legitimate, then they would have no problem transferring to the GB scheme if offered.

    Politicians should ensure that is done when they return for the final two days of the Assembly on Monday and Tuesday – offers should go out to RHI businesses next week to transfer to the GB scheme with the further offer that if they want, their names can be published to show they have transferred.

    As a society, we’ll all know how to treat the businesses that don’t transfer, when their names are eventually made public anyway.

  • Jag

    So, three businesses linked to Jim Wells, two linked to one SPAD and one linked to another. That’s six businesses. Out of 2,000.

    Given how small this 1.83m people place is, I can’t believe there won’t be more RHI businesses linked to 108 politicians and what? around 50 SPADs.

  • Anthony O’Shea

    So we should leave it alone now and be quiet until the inquiry delivers its result in ten years from now? I dont think so mo chara.

  • On the fence!

    “But it should be noted that, in general, the scandal is not
    likely to extend to farmers who are using the scheme to grow livestock.
    Since animals cannot take overheating, the thermostats kick in and the
    heating shuts down.”

    By the same token, it needs to be ensured that a poultry or pig house is not being used as an excuse for a blatant waste of heat to generate money. It would be quite easy to set the system that the boiler would be running full tilt and the vents of the house full open to vent it to the atmosphere at the same time.

    This is no more excusable than heating an empty house.

    Every single installation will have to be scrutinised, only in this case it will have to be done with a bit more background knowledge.

  • Madra Uisce

    Indeed this report in the News letter is more cause for concern http://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/rhi-scandal-60-of-boilers-in-areas-not-previously-heated-1-7784295

    It also backs up your point OTF.

  • Madra Uisce

    Agree Anthony this story is not going away anytime soon. Slugger will run out of dead cats long before it does.

  • NMS

    None of the businesses are linked to Mr. Wells. He does not have an economic interest in any one of them, or are you saying he does? I would suggest that the vast majority of those involved in the UKNI’s chicken industry opted for these wood chip boilers. Mr. Wells happens to be related to three people involved in intensive chicken production.

    If you or I were related to three chicken farmers, perhaps we too would be in the exact same position.

    To me, the RHI story/scandal looks like a form of illegal State aid, thought up to support a specific industry (intensive poultry production, which got completely out of hand. Direct support was not possible under EU rules, therefore someone proposed this alternative form of subsidy, which was fine, until too many people outside of the industry heard about it, and the original estimated cost turned out to be a lie.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    On a side (non political ) note a chicken house or pig house would be ideal for a bio-digester of some variety.

  • On the fence!

    Thanks for that. I hadn’t seen it but it does indeed highlight the concern.

    Poultry houses are so well insulated that they don’t require a significant input of heat over the course of a year. In fact ventilation to keep heat and humidity under control is a much more important factor.

    But again, all these issues only come about by the absolute stupidity of actually rewarding people financially for burning the pellets. Whoever actually is responsible for this (and somebody somewhere is), does not have the intelligence to look after a personal credit card never mind have an influence in a multi-million pound scheme. And you just have to wonder how anyone so incompetent ever got to be in the position they are in.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    But what do we do with all those mountains of wood pellets staccked high in Fermanagh, unless of course they are subsidised as a potential cat litter substitute and Arlene supporters loyally switch over from the family dog to chowders and chowders of cats…………..

  • Jag

    Hi NMS, it depends on what you mean by “link”, you’re right in what you say I believe, but I would say a familial link to an RHI business, does, in the current political context, confer a link on Jim Wells.

    Most of the MLAs in Stormont, according to declarations to the Assembly, earn their living solely from work as an MLA, so very few, if any, MLAs will a beneficial interest in RHI businesses. But I think many, many more will have “links”, familial or possibly through friendship or professional acquaintance, with RHI businesses.

  • mickfealty

    You’re on the right lines I think.

    But first, it is excusable I’m afraid. I also suspect that when the media get round to rousing themselves to ask people in the supply chain a lot of people with connections to all parties and none will show up.

    If a policy maker mis-draughts a regulation, it’s a loophole. People will find it and use it. The reason Hamilton can stop it is that morally no counter claim will stand a chance in getting his measures reverse to re-instate the free money.

  • On the fence!

    Well firstly I think I should clarify that I don’t believe any user of the scheme should be penalised for what has happened. Give people a chance to get money and they’ll take it, end of!

    However that leaves two things. Stopping the waste, and find out who was responsible for this absolute shameful situation arising.

    The waste can either be stopped immediately by paying cost price for the heat generated (as it should have been all along), or paying for legitimate heat used, and in this instance livestock systems should have to justify their usage the same as everyone else.

    Finding out just who was responsible is obviously going to be the tricky one!

  • On the fence!

    But wood pellets are still a potentially very environmentally friendly way to produce heat, and there’s no reason why, with sensible management, there should not be a valid industry built up producing biomass on a sustainable basis, turning it in to pellets, and people using it to heat their homes or businesses instead of finite resources of fossil fuels.

    It’s the same as the wind turbines, don’t blame the method for the idiocy and greed of those tasked with introducing them in to our lives.

  • On the fence!

    It must be what, thirty odd years plus now since they installed the digester at Bethlehem Abbey?

    Back then it was hailed as “the future” but there have been precious few since. If there was a genuine desire to help the environment there would be no scarcity of ways to do it without having to conjure up an abomination of a scheme such as this is.

    Politically it’s a disaster for some, an opportunity for others. Environmentally it’s a tragically missed opportunity for all of us.

  • the rich get richer

    Perhaps they should find accommodation for the homeless and less well off and heat that…………….

    Half a billion could make quite a few people warm…………..

    Have the Dupers got their priorities in the right order……..

  • Anthony O’Shea

    I just dont understand how it can be that there can be such an obvious gulf between how a site or media elements treat issues depending on which party the issue affects. How can we truly believe commentary when we know it to be biased?

  • articles

    I can’t be the only one who checked the property details for Jim Well’s house when it was
    up for sale/auction recently ( it still is I believe) and found it had oil fired heating; sorry Mr Wells just human nature. It raises an interesting point however namely how do you factor in an rhi domestic usage Biomass boiler when selling a property or indeed a commercial property with boilers on the lucrative rhi scheme. Is the scheme terminated following sale of the property?

  • Pete

    His statement seems a bit pointless to me, since he personally wasn’t doing anything wrong at all.

    Still, I guess it was probably necessary, since if others found out, they would try to make a fuss over nothing, as is usual in politics.

  • Jollyraj

    I wonder whether any Shinners have anything to declare on benefitting personally or indirectly from the scheme?

  • Granni Trixie

    I have made the point on Slugger previously that we must try to avoid stigmatising those who joined the scheme in good faith. However I find it difficult to believe that the reason Wells did not say so sooner was because he did not know his brother was one of those people until this week especially as to many a lack of transparency In Dup culture is what needs to change.

  • Neil

    I wonder if they did would the reporting or commenting hereabouts be anywhere near as understanding. I think we all know the answer to that question.

  • NMS

    With all due respect, I think you are stretching it a bit.

    Let me give you an Irish example of what I mean by introducing a relief under one heading, which in fact is meant as a specific subsidy to a certain industry. Sect 46, F A 2008, introduced accelerated Cap Allces for certain energy efficient equipment for use in a trade, enabling the writing off of the complete cost of in one year. Green Party Minister Ryan claimed it for themselves, however the truth is different. The push for such legislation came from the ICT Sector, specifically those with very large server farms. The movement to cloud based services etc., required huge computer power,consuming massive amounts of electricity. Irish electricity is not cheap, so providing incentives covering additional costs was an alternative.
    Servicing of MNCs’ customers is then done from Ireland, and contradicts claims by authorities in other countries of a right to any share of the income or profits. But the best bit was the Greens selling it on behalf of Microsoft & friends.

  • Jag

    I think when you’re a politician at Stormont who, as part of a collective, introduce a scheme which benefits those in the know hugely (“making out like bandits”, “filling their boots”) then familial relationships are relevant. Nobody is accusing Jim Wells of directly benefitting from the RHI scheme, I don’t think, but his familial links with those who do are relevant.

    When Peter Robinson accused Jim Allister’s wife of selling land to a taig, certainly Peter Robinson thought familial relations were relevant!

  • mac tire

    It was lucky Jim’s brother got a boiler installed in October – the same month Bell claimed he was trying to close the scheme down but was told to keep it open by DUP SPADs.
    Very lucky indeed, considering the spike that occurred.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Indeed.

    You just reminded me that one of the Islay distilleries installed one and it was to save a great deal of money energy wise (I believe the Dunman Diary could do something similar…)

    http://edition.cnn.com/2010/TECH/05/20/whisky.biogas.distillery.scotland/

    I suggested to a farming relative the following ‘cycle’:

    Wee farm brewery – bad beer goes to the cows and the good beer to humans

    Waste from beer and cattle goes to biodigester

    Heat from biodigester gas goes back into the farm & brewery

    The waste from the biodigester (being an organic enriched fertiliser) goes back into the farm and furthermore facilitates an ‘organic’ statu for the farm (if they want one).

    Money saved on heat and fertiliser and money earned from beer, novelty beef and (perhaps) the ‘organic’ tag.

    Of course farming relative sees it all as ‘a fad’ and continues to flog his dying horse…

  • JOHN TURLEY

    ,You can be sure some journalists are searching hard.Last Sunday Ruth D Edwards told us
    there was evidence swirling around that both supporters
    of the D.U.P and Sinn Fein were cleaning up. Perhaps she
    will have a scoop for us tomorrow..

  • Nevin

    Seaan, Fermanagh seems to have had an ‘ecumenical’ approach; I’d be surprised if sponsors of GAA events would also be intimately linked to the DUP! Are your historical research talents not applicable?

  • Anthony O’Shea

    Did Bell not claim on Nolan that Arlene told him to keep it open? Or am i wrong. I am losing track of this errand waltz.

  • Bill Osborne

    How many DUP associates are connected with the poultry industry?

  • Madra Uisce

    To be fair Slugger is not alone in this. It is how blogging in particular is operated. I suppose we should be thankful that this is the DUPs screw up rather than the shinners or Pete Baker (who appears to be taking a sabbatical) fingers would be worn down to the knuckle typing

  • wild turkey

    Anthony. it is bias. but it is a statistical bias. The sample size is, ahem, very small. Norn Ironland, the six counties, the province, whatever you care to label it is a very very small place. and there are some tribes, clans, locales, who look askance at dating, or maybe mating, outside the immediate family circle. keep it in the family is a guiding principle.

    in such circumstances, an episode like RHI is an inevitable consequence. but look on the brighter side

    maybe Trump is right about climate change/global warming. it may very well be a conspiracy. i am reliably informed that the new White House is about to issue a paper stating that the source of global warming is chicken “farmers” who excessively heat up the hatcheries…. but forget to close the doors.

  • Reader

    Madra Uisce: I suppose we should be thankful that this is the DUPs screw up rather than the shinners or Pete Baker (who appears to be taking a sabbatical) fingers would be worn down to the knuckle typing
    I just checked. Sluggerotoole has 5 topic headings specifically on RHI in the last 3 days. A couple of others use it as the basis of a more general discussion. If that isn’t enough for you what would be a more sensible number?
    And – careful now – SF is switching focus to longer term grievances with an inquiry in the pipeline and the election coming up. It would be uncool to lag behind the Shinner zeitgeist.

  • wild turkey

    Grannie T. ah c’mon. you have been nobly involved in politics, but, and excuse the tautological note, most politicians here are on the make?

    it was not the peace that was leaving the station, it was the gravy train.

    with my highest respect and esteem

  • Reader

    Granni Trixie: However I find it difficult to believe that the reason Wells did not say so sooner was because he did not know his brother was one…
    There would have been those here who would have complained if he had rushed to mention the one without waiting to gather the information on the other three.

  • eireanne3

    “This is no more excusable than heating an empty house”. – minimum heating of an empty house in the NI climate is needed to prevent damp infiltration and general deterioration of the property.

  • John Collins

    Well especially since he admits to knowing the business arrangements of his third cousin. I am a serious genealogy buff myself and I would know who many of my third cousins are. However I would seldom speak with them and would never want to know horniness dealings.
    I think most people’s experience would be similar, in this regard.

  • Granni Trixie

    Not in my experience.

  • Granni Trixie

    The reason I did not mention his cousins was to recognise that sometimes people do not be in touch with their cousins regularly whereas I imagine that even if you did not see your sibling regularly you would hear news about them from other family members. But ofcourse one cannot say for sure in every case.

  • eireanne3

    here’s some info about the policy of selling or rather not selling land and farms to “the other sort”
    https://eurofree3.wordpress.com/2013/09/24/no-pope-here-never-ever-ever/

  • Jollyraj

    Kinda what journalists are supposed to do, no?

    I think one would have to be very naiive to believe that the beneficiaries of this ‘scheme’ aren’t drawn from all sections of the community.

    Indeed, a sensitivity to that in all probability contributed to SF’s sudden lack of interest in an enquiry.

  • Jollyraj

    What are you saying, JC?

  • Madra Uisce

    Maybe you are in the wrong party Granni

  • articles

    Surely it’s time for another undercover report from Chris Donnelly from the bowels of the DUP bunker; it would fascinating to learn of their revised strategy post Martin McGuiness, Ian Paisley jr and the continuing drip drip of revelations.

    https://sluggerotoole.com/2017/01/04/the-hatching-of-the-great-misogyny-distraction-plan/

  • JOHN TURLEY

    I agree completely,lets hope they do their job well.
    If their is Shinner connection we need to be told the
    truth, not just a smear campaign about probability.

  • Gingray

    But reader, do you not find it odd that Jim Wells attended the DfE Perm Secs PAC committee hearing midweek, but only today discovered that his family are involved in this?

    At no point over Christmas did anyone in the Wells family think, “Oh, I have a boiler, I must make sure brother/cousin Jim knows so he doesn’t get accused of dishonesty.”

    Nor did Wells seem to think “Damn, there is a media witch hunt on, maybe I should check with all those relatives of mine who are in the poultry business, that Bell guy was going on about it and it could reflect badly.”

    Not knowing before now makes him look stupid.

    That does not in any way mean he is guilty, but seriously not knowing that your bro got one of those profit making RHI boilers thats getting your party into bother?

    Oops.

  • John Collins

    JR
    Well I think is that I find it hard why Jim should he has for brothers possible in this matte

  • Gingray

    Ha Mick, come on, surely at this stage you need to declare an interest?

    You spent much of 2016 telling us that the DUP was the competent, grown up party, and have had a strong and at times personal antipathy towards Sinn Fein. And its clear that these views are shaping how you report and downplay RHI.

    Case in point is the Jim Wells revelation today. Note that it was released today and he only found out about the boilers today. You use this as another reason to pretend that there is nothing to see from RHI but fail to ask:

    1. Why was Jim Wells at the PAC hearing midweek? Strange he would be there with no interest.

    2. Why did Wells fail to enquire himself if any family members had a boiler given the heat the DUP party has been under?

    Its lazy reporting at the very least or careful misdirection, so your ignoring of obvious gaps only serves to make it look like more hiding from the DUP.

    My view is that the vast majority of customers are not committing fraud.

    However there seems ample evidence that the DUP at a high level kept the scheme open for their own reasons, refused to introduce tiering, and with luck any investigation will take into account who makes the boilers and supplies the pellets.

    But until then we will have you trying to convince everyone its all part of the Sinn Fein master plan …

  • On the fence!

    Nice one!

    These are exactly the sort of things that need to be encouraged on farms everywhere which are win-win for all those involved but more importantly, scale them up in numbers and you genuinely start to make a huge difference to human impact on the planet which we all have to share.

    The late John Seymour was one of our first pioneers and best exponents of the concept of sustainable living in the post-war era. But even in those early days of the movement he knew that all these practices of sustainability and harvesting renewable energy, worked best when applied on a small scale as that best suited the efficiencies and the compromises necessary to make such things work properly.

    Unfortunately, abominations such as our RHI scheme and the money spinning wind turbines (no pun intended!) show what a perversion of the principle you end up with when it’s applied on a grand scale and by people with no concept of the ethos that should be behind it.

    Now if you had a “Green Party” who actually knew a bit or gave a sniff about the environment………………….

  • babyface finlayson

    So the question is are these farmers more concerned about their poultry or their energy usage?
    Which comes first, the chicken or the erg?

  • Granni Trixie

    All sectors? But surely this is the reason we need to see a map of beneficiaries which would reveal which localities were in the know until then we cannot say at all that all sectors benefited. Only the se in the know did.

  • Jollyraj

    “JR
    Well I think is that I find it hard why Jim should he has for brothers possible in this matte”

    Uhm…. sorry, but I’m not quite understanding that either 🙂

  • Granni Trixie

    A fuss over nothing? in view of the RHI sandal and a focus on governance and transparency any MLA worth his salt should know to declare such family connections to foreshadow perceptions of conflcts of interest.

  • Jollyraj

    Indeed.

    As with Sinn Fein and the DLA it might be informative to see how the applicant map lies along constituency lines.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    You know, once the farm subsidies stop (if we really do leave the EU) i’d be tempted to buy a wee farm and put my money where my mouth is.

    Wee farms that have retained their old buildings would be particularly attractive due to the tourist potential (another aspect my farming relative could employ – paint up all the old machinery, park it out front and use it as an advertising gimmick to lure people into the farm shop/eatery).

    Agri tourism is becoming quite the thing in some countries.

    I have this theory that Fermanagh is ideally placed to exploit this aspect.

    Can you imagine if it was designated ‘Fertiliser-Free Fermanagh’ and concentrated on agri tourism, fishing and organic farming?

    Though it wouldn’t be a gold rush it would nonetheless give it something more to export, something to charge a greater price for and bring tourists into places that normally wouldn’t see them.

    While I understand the hesitation of being deemed as a national park I truly think Fermanagh would benefit from such a designation.
    Anyhoo, the ideas are there for anyone who wants them….

  • grumpy oul man

    Sorry Mick i have to agree with Gingray here.
    It is stretching the bounds of credabilty that someone with family heavily involved in poultry raising would be unaware of them having these heating systems.
    They are very expensive systems and a major piece of infastructure, also surely any poltician with family in any business that would be likly to benefit from the RHI scheme would have checked if they were part of the scheme when the scandal broke. I only found out today seems highly unlikly.
    At least this time. there doesnt seen to be any confusion about what constitutes a family member.

  • grumpy oul man

    I think hes saying ( it should be obvious )thats its passing strange that Jim knows his thirds cousin business better than his brothers.
    And its also strange that a poltician with family in the poultry business bid not check f they were involed in the RHI scheme when the scandal broke.
    That last bit was all me.

  • grumpy oul man

    The biodegester at Portglenone was a wonderful piece of kit but over engineered and very complex to run.
    I first heard about it from a Swedish engineer in Sabah (long story) and visited it when i returned home.
    It was the pet project of the monk who built it and ceased operating ehen he was unable to work it through old age.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    John, I’m reasonably aware of the business activities of my own distant cousins, here, in the south and over the water, because we are in touch and interested in one another. But perhaps thats an aspect of my own particular social mileau.

    But one would think after all the muttering about family by marriage and other extended family being “used” to distance any “advantage” for people in politics here, that anyone who took the issue of Caeser’s wife seriously might be extra-cautious in such concerns. With our defamation laws, and with the privacy issues quite properly brought in to ensure safety during the troubles, serious scrutiny of such matters is more difficult here than over the Irish sea. As with any such “shield” such things protect from threat but may also provide equal cover for dishonestly motivated activity.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    JR, you and me both. Perhaps John should go to “edit” and re-write it so that it makes some sense.

    I’m certainly aware of what my own distant Fermanagh and South Armagh cousins along the border are up to, and was always concerned regarding issues of possible threat to them during the violence earlier decades, especially those with service connections.

  • Lionel Hutz

    The biggest point about family connections is not any suggestion of fraud. Nor is it any suggestion that the DUP might have kept the scheme open to help their associated families interests.

    That’s over complicating it.

    For me the fact that a significant proportion of DUP members have family or associate interests in the scheme puts paid to the notion that the DUP was corporately unaware of the nature of this scheme. They just can’t claim ignorance.

    They didn’t need whistle blowers. The information was right there

  • SeaanUiNeill

    But Granni, if my own good name and credibility were possibly at issue I would be without rest until I had clarified the matter. A few phone calls would have clarified this within hours once the danger of family implication in something potentially politically questionable arose. We are not talking about the Ireland of 1800, where Dublin was three days from Belfast nad news and letters could take a week to even reach other cities here.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Not only Fermanagh Nevin, but often the contacts through which such things happen are through those farming links which cross confessional and political allegiance.

  • Lionel Hutz

    To be fair I’d know what line of work my cousins are in. I would know what interesting work they are doing or whatever.

    But I have no idea what heating systems they use

  • John Collins

    Sorry JR I did .not realise I had actually posted that gibberish. GOMs reply above sums up what I actually meant to say and on the other hand why anyone would regard the spouse of a third cousin as a relative in any meaningful sense is quite puzzling.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Oh they are, but they are part of a “specialist parts” industry which I find highly suspect. I use renewable wood extensively myself, but not pellets.

    Wind power also operates best on a large scale. The mess caused by turning it into yet another farming subsidy has other seriously harmful effects on the environment which are seldom spoken of. Hedge rows with up to six or seven species, marking an origin some centuries back, are being “grubbed up” as they “threaten” extended electrical overhead wire connections for individually sited wind turbines which are often far from economic and would not have been considered without subsidy. I know of instances where migrating rare birds mentioned to planning as an issue have been entirely ignored Hard core roads are being constructed to individual sites which also destroy habitats and urbanise the countryside. Everywhere there seems to be a preference for planning giving the go-ahead to such applications with scant regard for the planning guidelines regarding wind generation.

    My own preference would be for localised Photovoltiac generation for individual properties, rather than systems which require major works of some sort to ensure a centralised distribution which must entirely link such things to large businesses and the problems of a required large scale grant subsidy.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Lionel, you might if it would perhaps impact on your own career. I know I would be careful in such matters.

  • grumpy oul man

    We all wonder that, but those who deal in what is known are looking closely at the the DUP and not shouting “THEMMUNS” and as John Turley says below i am sure that if there we will find out about it.
    But if you have any information (i am sure this is not a attempt to divert attention away from the DUP) then please share it with us.

  • grumpy oul man

    How long has this whole thing been in the news, and no Shinners mentioned, you would have thought that a DUP SPAD or MLA who would have full access to the list of applicants would have leaked something by now.
    But we will see if R D Edwards produces anything tying Shinners into this.
    In the meantime could we maybe leave the diversionary tactics and smears out of it.

  • Jag

    Most families tend to speak, and if you’re in government, I know from experience you’re pestered all the time by family, friends, acquaintances and people you just bump into, to give advice and predictions.

    Who knows what happened in the cases of the SPADs and Jim Wells, but I would be surprised if there hadn’t been any discussions about the RHI scheme at the time.

    In fact, if there WEREN’T discussions, then, if I were Jim Wells, I would be cold shouldering my family for not alerting me to the massive flaw which is now costing us £85k a day.

  • NMS

    It seems incredible to me, from experience, that the Dept. of Agriculture was not fully aware of what was going on. If I was a UK taxpayer, that is where I would like to see the investigations focus first of all. The DETI side of the story has been spun so many times it is like candyfloss on a stick. It would certainly be interesting to hear from both the Civil Servants, Ministers & of course SPADs who were in that Department at the time.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I hope the “dying horse” is metaphorical, but one never knows after the worrying revelations of a few years back:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/9804632/Tesco-beef-burgers-found-to-contain-29-horse-meat.html

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    It is Seaan but that being said his poor old pony has seen better days…

  • Neil

    Jim Wells seems to think he’s not alone…

    https://twitter.com/TheSundayLife/status/822937339773255681

  • Nevin

    Seaan, that Fermanagh link wasn’t to a farmer. Also, the DARD promotion of RHI, for example, via CAFRE wasn’t just to poultry folk, mushroom people were also mentioned in the promotion. The DARD minister at the time, Michelle O’Neill, has also been mentioned quite a bit in recent despatches.

  • Granni Trixie

    Trying to make a virtue out of a necessity?

  • articles

    Point for clarification please Mick. Most parties monitor the media and lobby individual outlets whether privately or publicly. I imagine the BBC and Newsletter suits have robust conversations with our local parties most recently with the DUP, has any party approached the Slugger Editorial team?

  • On the fence!

    You also need to know how hard work it would be!

    We are on the brink of going in to organic conversion officially, but have been without use of artificial fertiliser for almost three years now, and this has lost me my single farm payment. The geniuses in the department had two concerns regarding our “farm business”. Firstly they thought production wasn’t as high as it should be and secondly were concerned that there were no invoices for purchase of fertiliser. Unfortunately there didn’t seem to be the sense amongst all of them to see that the two “concerns” would be directly related so despite admitting that there was absolutely no indication that I was renting the land out in any shape or form, they declared me “inactive” and stopped the past two years payments.

    So given that there isn’t even the competence to manage such basic things properly, is it any wonder that everything else land related is such a mess.

  • On the fence!

    But the principle is just as sound as it was then, and huge improvements in control technology makes it a much more practical proposition nowadays.

    If there was the desire.

  • On the fence!

    I still think that the “wood pellet” concept has huge potential as it allows you to automate and scale up the burning of a renewable energy source in a way that is simply not yet possible with anything else.

    But again, like the wind turbine, it’s use for years to come is going to be blighted and it’s unquestionable advantages overlooked because of public sector incompetence and private sector greed.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Of course I can see the advantage in the system of feed, which makes it similar (if rather more cumbersome) to an oil system. But the manner in which it is vulnerable to any rupture of supply, in a manner in which a simple stove3 is not, seriously discourages me.

    As you say, the current situation has tarred renewables unjustly with the taint of scandal!

  • On the fence!

    Fully agree with your logic in that respect which is why about five years ago after looking seriously at planting out an area of SRC Willow and fitting a pellet boiler, I ultimately decided instead to fit a bespoke wood-burning stove and planted out eight acres of native woodland.

    However, while that’s fine for domestic or even small scale commercial, it has distinct limits in practicality which the pellet doesn’t.

    But certainly tainted badly by this carry on.

  • grumpy oul man

    Oh if anything the principal is sounder , better science and technology has simplified the whole thing.

  • grumpy oul man

    If your looking a partner to play the crusty oul yokel, I’m your man!

  • Eugene Doherty

    Himmler was a chicken farmer…just saying

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    My word, even by the standards of ‘the ministry men’ that is face-palmingly incompetent.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Form a disorderly queue. On a bench. And wave at people you don’t know.

  • Croiteir

    Did he not say that it was the husband of a third, meaning one more than two?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I fully agree about the problems of scale.

  • the rich get richer

    Does Jim never slip out to the Shed to give his head peace when he is visiting the auld relatives . It had to be hot in those Sheds . Jim probably thought it was a sauna……………