Warning over net zero cost to Argyll

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A former MSP has challenged the Scottish Government to ensure Argyll and Bute is not the victim of ‘thoughtless’ policies aimed at reducing carbon emissions.

Mike MacKenzie, an SNP member at Holyrood from 2011 to 2016, published an open letter to Scottish Green MSP Patrick Harvie, Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants’ Rights, pointing out that the Highlands and Islands, including Argyll and Bute, is disadvantaged relative to urban areas when it comes to fuel availability and cost.

Easdale builder Mr MacKenzie, who recently switched allegiance to the Alba party, also raised concerns that the age and construction of rural homes makes them more expensive to convert to alternative heating methods such as heat pumps.

In his letter – published on page 10 in this edition – Mr MacKenzie adds: ‘You will know that the Highlands and Islands are responsible for a relatively small amount of Scotland’s CO2 emissions, most being produced in the central belt.

‘I am therefore keen to receive your reassurances that we in the Highlands are not going to be the victims of thoughtless policies which are implemented and conceived in haste.’

A Scottish Government spokesperson said it is ‘committed to tackling the root causes of fuel poverty across the whole of Scotland’ as part of its commitment to reach net zero by 2045 in a ‘fair and just’ way.

The spokesperson continued: ‘We recognise that the costs of delivering energy efficiency measures are higher in remote rural and island communities, which is why we are committed to continuing to spend more per head on installations in these areas.

‘Since 2013 our Area Based Schemes, delivered by local authorities, have improved energy efficiency for more than 100,000 fuel-poor households, making their homes warmer and cheaper to heat.’

Argyll and Bute Council received £2.3 million from the Area Based Scheme in May 2021, to be used by Argyll Community Housing Association in partnership with the council and SSE Energy Solutions to fit external wall insulation.

Argyll and Bute MSP Jenni Minto said: ‘It is time for politicians of all parties to work together on tackling the climate emergency.

‘Our journey to net zero is exactly that – a journey – and I am confident that we are making it with the ambition, consideration and rational decision-making needed.’