Sub­sea ca­ble work will push up prices in High­lands and is­lands

The Oban Times - - News - EMMA CRICH­TON ecrich­ton@oban­

be re­flected in elec­tric­ity bills across the re­gion.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar at­tended a con­sul­ta­tion held by Scot­tish and South­ern Energy Power Dis­tri­bu­tion last week to raise con­cerns about the added charges, as the re­gion al­ready has the high­est lev­els of fuel poverty in the coun­try.

Alas­dair Macleod, chair­man of the comhairle’s sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment com­mit­tee, said: ‘It was hugely con­cern­ing to hear about these new poli­cies, the po­ten­tial costs aris­ing from them and the fact that con­sumers in the Outer He­brides and the north of Scot­land will have to pick up the cost.

‘Elec­tric­ity bills in the Outer He­brides are al­ready ex­ces­sive and fur­ther costs will sim­ply push peo­ple fur­ther into fuel poverty.

‘Fuel poverty lev­els in the Outer He­brides presently stand at 71 per cent and ad­di­tional costs on bills will only fur­ther ex­ac­er­bate this.’

A spokesman for SSE con­firmed a change in the way elec­tric­ity ca­bles are laid and pro­tected would mean higher costs: ‘These poli­cies may re­quire us to change our longestab­lished ap­proach.

‘Such a change would re­quire sig­nif­i­cant ad­di­tional cap­i­tal ex­pen­di­ture, which will ul­ti­mately be paid for by elec­tric­ity con­sumers on the Scot­tish is­lands and across the north of Scot­land un­der cur­rent ar­range­ments.’

A Scot­tish gov­ern­ment spokesper­son was un­avail­able for com­ment on the plan, but a state­ment was re­leased on Mon­day which said £224 mil­lion is to be in­vested in in­su­la­tion to re­duce fuel poverty across the coun­try.

First Min­is­ter Ni­cola Stur­geon said: ‘Noth­ing is more im­por­tant to me than re­spond­ing to the real pres­sures that in­di­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies across Scot­land face.

‘Through this scheme, the Scot­tish gov­ern­ment will de­liver the best pos­si­ble help to thou­sands of peo­ple blighted by fuel poverty, strug­gling to keep their homes warm and pay their energy bills.’

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