Eleanor Scott, MSP for the Highlands and Islands, has welcomed the announcement by the Communities Minister of more than £200 million for affordable housing in the Highlands, and called for assurances that the money would be spent on ensuring affordable warmth for all Highlanders.
Dr Scott said: “This is a welcome investment and I support the move to community-owned housing. Iʼm also pleased to see the Scottish Executive will pay off Highland Councilʼs housing debt so that in future rents can be used to improve existing housing stock and build new homes, rather than disappearing into the black hole of interest repayments.
“The Highlands suffers from extreme weather and it has far too many homes in the rental sector with poor insulation, so a significant chunk of this new money needs to go into improving this situation. For the sake of peopleʼs health and the environment, what is needed are homes that are affordable to heat as well as affordable to rent. That means we need Scandinavian standards of design and insulation and innovative use of renewable energy such as woodchip boilers for individual homes or district heating schemes.”
Dr Scott is writing to the Minister for Communities, Malcolm Chisholm, to suggest that energy standards for grant-aided housing should be higher. “I would like to see every new house being built having the highest possible levels of energy efficiency built in and making the most of passive solar heating. All new houses should also include domestic renewable energy generation such as solar panels, small scale wind-generators and wood-burning stoves. There can be no excuse, given our climate change targets, for building houses that will wastefully consume energy and increase tenantsʼ bills.”
(Note: this item was originally published on Eleanor Scott’s Parliamentary website.)