ALLAN BACKS FUEL POVERTY BILL IN PARLIAMENT
Alasdair Allan, SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, recently backed the Fuel Poverty Bill at Stage 1 in the Scottish Parliament.
The islands MSP spoke in the chamber and raised fuel poverty issues relating specifically to the Western Isles.
The Bill sets a target for the reduction of fuel poverty to no more than 5% by 2040. It also creates a new definition for fuel poverty which will work for people across Scotland, especially those on low incomes.
Alasdair Allan said: “Fuel poverty remains significant in the Western Isles. I was pleased to contribute to the debate in the Scottish Parliament about that issue.
I welcome the Bill and the Scottish Government’s commitment to making it work in the islands. There are specific circumstances we face in the islands – these include the windchill factor, which is not currently recognised in the system of cold weather payments; there is the ageing population factor; the predominance of detached houses, and the general unavailability of mains gas. There are on top of low incomes, the flawed universal credit rollout, a shortage of affordable rented housing and the spiralling cost of energy.
The Scottish Government is working to tackle fuel poverty, but there is work that the UK Government need to do as well. Benefit reforms, and rising fuel costs are within the remit of the UK Government, and they must challenge these factors. This Bill is a significant step in battling the scourge of fuel poverty, making homes warmer, greener and more energy efficient.”
Read more: Local News for Thursday 28th February 2019
COMHAIRLE CALL FOR URGENT ACTION ON FERRY REPLACMENT
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has called for urgent action on a ferry fleet replacement programme. Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Cllr Uisdean Robertson said:
‘The Comhairle has been encouraged by the open approach and sympathetic ear Ministers have given to engaging with us on ferry matters but we need to see real action from Government to overcome the decades long underinvestment in Scotland’s lifeline ferry fleet with orders placed at shipyards to replace all four major ferries that have already been in service for 30 years or more.
‘With the imminent passing of winter, islanders should be looking forward to the summer with a sense of optimism. This is again tempered by an unease that stems from the likelihood of technical failure in the ageing fleet of ferries which we must rely on as the lifeline for our communities.’
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar wrote to the Islands Minister late last year following the positive discussion he had with business and community representatives at the ferry summit in Uist in November. The Comhairle set out a range of measures to improve reliability and resilience on the crossings to and within the Western Isles in the short, medium and long term.
The success of RET means the fleet size needs to increase by one if not two new major ferries. This would provide a dedicated ferry to both Harris and North Uist and the Stornoway route should be stepped up to a two ferry operation.
Read more: Local News for Wednesday 27th February 2019