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Highlands and Islands Greens
Highlands and Islands Greens

Highlands & Islands Councils Must Do More to Cut Climate Pollution

Monday, March 28th, 2005

Councils in the Highlands & Islands have made some progress to cut climate-changing pollution but much more needs to be done, MSP Eleanor Scott said today in response to a recent report on energy efficiency. (1)

The Communities Scotland progress report on Home Energy Conservation Act details the extent to which councils are or are not meeting their own targets for improving energy efficiency in homes.  As well as tackling fuel poverty so that everyone has a warm, dry home, the targets are in place to ensure carbon emissions are cut.

Highlands & Islands MSP Dr Scott, whose colleague Shiona Baird has lodged a bill to improve energy efficiency in homes, said, “There has been some progress – Highland in particular has slashed carbon emissions by an admirable 20·7% – but there remains a lot to do before councils can claim they are making significant contribution in the battle to slow down climate change.  Orkney comes within the bottom 10 councils in Scotland having reduced emissions by only 8·6% from 1997 to 2003.  This figure really must improve. (2)

“Shetland and Western Isles also come in the bottom 10 and need to do better.  Shetland has cut 9·3% of emissions, while Western Isles Council has managed 9·8%.  Argyll & Bute have managed 10·5% which is slightly more commendable, and Moray has done well with a reduction of 14·7%.  However, I think the central problem here is a lack of funding from the Executive – and I appreciate that councils have limited resources available to improve these figures.  However, this does not let local authorities off the hook.  Home energy use account for 30% of total UK energy consumption so it should be a key area for investment and should be prioritised by government at local and national level.

“Ultimately, to help councils make more speedy progress, we need a national target and strategy so there is co-ordinated Scotland-wide action.  That is why Greens have lodged a bill calling for this.  There are some initiatives, including the Executive’s Warm Deal, that are making a slight difference – but the approach at both the national and local level is piecemeal and inadequate.  A target and strategy would help focus efforts and ensure councils receive more support.”

Notes

1. See www.scottishexecutive.gov.uk/library5/development/hecar5-00.asp.

2. Appendix B: Local authority-reported reductions in carbon dioxide emissions under HECA (1997-2003):

  • Argyll and Bute – 10·5%
  • Comhairle nan Eilean Siar – 9·8%
  • Highlands – 20·71%
  • Moray – 14·68%
  • Orkney – 8·65%
  • Shetland – 9·33%
3. Facts and figures on domestic energy efficiency:

“A household is in fuel poverty if, in order to maintain a satisfactory heating regime, it would be required to spend more than 10% of its income (including Housing Benefit or Income Support for Mortgage Interest) on all household fuel use.”
(Scottish Executive: The Scottish Fuel Poverty Statement, 2002)