Passionate plea calls for new approach to tackle Moray fuel poverty

Lochhead plea for end to ‘galling’ situation faced by many struggling to keep up with fuel bills.

A CALL FOR ENERGY JUSTICE for Moray has been made this week in a speech delivered by Richard Lochhead MSP during a debate at the Scottish Parliament.

The SNP MSP said it was “galling” that so many people in his constituency were living close to an energy project that was being developed on their doorstep – then being transported past their homes and providing no direct benefit.

Several wind farms exist or are being developed in Moray in connection with the transmission lines being put in place by SSE via the Blackhillock Substation in Keith. These were examples used by the MSP who called for community benefit from such project to be used to introduce schemes that tackle fuel poverty in rural areas.

Mr Lochhead highlighted how 28% of Moray households are not on the gas grid while the national average is just 18%. He also highlighted the low-wage economy in his constituency and the fact that this meant families are being hammered by high fuel costs while salaries are much lower than in other parts of Scotland.

Speaking after the debate, the SNP MSP said: “Far too many people living in Moray are unable to connect to the grid, meaning people rely on expensive alternatives such as deliveries of oil to heat their home or on bottles of gas to cook with.

“When it comes to tackling fuel poverty, we need Ofgem and the UK Government to focus more on these off-grid households who don’t benefit from dual-fuel discounts or special tariffs.

“It is absolutely galling that many of my constituents who are living in fuel poverty can see windfarms on their doorsteps or are seeing the huge development at Blackhillock at Keith but are seeing no benefit by way of cheaper fuel bills.

“We must find a way to make sure that communities benefit from having significant energy resources on their doorstep. There’s always talk of community benefit from windfarm developments and I would like to see additional community benefit to tackle fuel poverty for rural households.

“We need bold solutions to deliver energy justice for people living in places like Moray, where energy is produced, and I personally would like to see a publicly owned Scottish national energy company taking a stake in energy projects in Scotland and reinvesting the money in other energy projects to get people out of fuel poverty.”