Dumfries & Galloway has more than 40% of households living in fuel poverty, which is exacerbated by the high numbers of households on low incomes who do not have access to mains gas. None of the big 6 energy companies currently include replacement of boilers for those off the gas grid in their ECO schemes. Dr McLeod’s SNP colleague Mike Weir MP asked the question at Westminster Energy & Climate Change Questions last week.
Dr McLeod commented:
“People who are not connected to mains gas tend to find it more difficult to get a good deal when it comes to heating their homes. Such homes are often of older construction and harder to heat than more modern homes.
“There are many thousands of consumers throughout Scotland who are not connected to the mains gas grid and never will be, including many in the more rural parts of Dumfries & Galloway. It is utterly shocking therefore that none of the Big 6 energy companies have included the replacement of aged LPG and Home Fuel Oil boilers in their schemes under the Energy Company Obligation.
“UK Ministers have previously claimed that the schemes were technology neutral, which is clearly not the case if technologies used in rural areas are excluded.
“The Minister stated that he will be meeting the suppliers and promised that there would be progress. This is not before time and I very much hope that the UK Government and the Big 6 will recognise their duty to provide schemes that treat all areas equally and finally include such boilers within their schemes.
“Of course with the powers that independence would give us over regulation of the energy market we could do much more to tackle the very serious issue of rural fuel poverty.”
Mr Weir’s question and the Minister’s answer are as below
Mike Weir (SNP Angus)
One way to increase energy efficiency is to have modern boilers. The current affordable warrant schemes under the ECO, however, do not include home fuel oil or LPG boilers, discriminating against those in rural areas who are off the gas grid. The Minister has said that the coalition wants to do something for rural areas, so will he look again and ensure that, as he has promised before, all such schemes will be technologically neutral?
We take this issue very seriously. We are meeting suppliers again next month, and I can assure the hon. Gentleman that there will be progress. That has eluded Governments in the past, but we are determined to make progress.