Tyrone poultry farmer’s regret over RHI involvement

Fred Maxwell said the dry heat from RHI boilers was the main benefit for his business
Fred Maxwell said the dry heat from RHI boilers was the main benefit for his business

A poultry farmer who invested heavily in Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) boilers has said he “wishes he never set eyes” on the botched green energy scheme.

Fred Maxwell has 10 hen houses near Dungannon producing hundreds of thousands of birds a year.

He said the publication of the names of RHI grant recipients led to his family being threatened and his business “decimated” – despite paying twice as much to install and run the boilers than the £906,000 grant received from the government.

His plight wasn’t helped when loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson claimed in a blog post that Mr Maxwell was a DUP donor. Mr Maxwell has stressed he was never a DUP donor or a member of the party, but at one time was a member of the Ulster Unionists.

“I got in what I needed in terms of the heat my chickens require,” he said.

“I just got what I needed. And every penny spent, apart from a small amount of wood chip I brought in from the south, has gone into the Northern Ireland economy.”

As a result of the strict requirements needed to rear chickens, the boilers used by Mr Maxwell are in operation for around six months of the year.

After opening up his business books to the Belfast Telegraph, Mr Maxwell added: “It’s a dry heat so all of a sudden the chickens were performing better, they didn’t need antibiotics or as much meal to grow.

“Aside from the incentive, that was the benefit, but I am not making money.

“There are crooks using RHI, in any system there would be.

“But I can’t see it being the chicken farmers,” he added.

“They could only use the heat for what they need it for. The chickens couldn’t take any more.”