Ulster Unionist Infrastructure Spokesperson, Roy Begs MLA, has called on the Economy Minister Diane Dodds to take swift action to recoup half a million pounds paid out to wind turbine owners under emergency coronavirus funding, and help restore public confidence.
Roy Beggs MLA said:
“The news that almost half a million pounds was handed out by the Department of the Economy to 52 wind turbine owners in Northern Ireland from emergency coronavirus funding, will come as a slap in the face to those people and businesses who could not avail of any support, and as a shock to the public as a whole.
“The Economy Minister Diane Dodds needs to get a grip on her Department and find out just how this was allowed to happen. Nobody could seriously say that Covid-19 was going to affect the wind, and therefore at some point someone should have stepped in to prevent £10,000 grants being out to wind turbine owners. The fact that the Audit Office has already said that many wind turbines in Northern Ireland are already receiving “excessive” subsidies from people paying electricity bills under the NI Renewables (NIRO) scheme merely adds insult to injury.
“It is nothing short of outrageous that whilst many sectors were forced to close and be left with no help at all, 52 wind turbine owners were handed £10,000 each without even asking for it.
“Diane Dodds needs to find out how this was allowed to happen and take steps to recoup the money so it can be spent where it is most needed. There also needs to be clarity as to whether the £10,000 grant was given to any other energy generators whose businesses continued as normal during the Covid-19 crisis. The Economy Minister needs to tell us what she is doing to ensure that such a fiasco cannot be repeated. This is the least that is required to try to restore public confidence.”