Plumbing merchants in Northern Ireland look set to be hit hard by the regional assembly's decision not to introduce a boiler scrappage scheme.
Minister for social development Margaret Ritchie told ministers on Monday that her main concern was with cutting down fuel poverty, meaning such an initiative was unlikely.
'Although I support a local boiler scrappage scheme similar to the English model, my first concern, as minister with responsibility for the fuel poverty strategy, is the alleviation of fuel poverty in vulnerable households,' she said.
'I accept that improving the energy efficiency of households that have old or inefficient boilers will contribute to the alleviation of fuel poverty. However, any such scheme that I introduce will target vulnerable households in which people live in fuel poverty; it will not focus solely on reducing carbon emissions, as is the case with the scheme in England.'
The decision leaves Northern Ireland the only region in the UK not to operate a such a scheme.