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FoI reveals 60 per cent of council homes in Wick fall below energy efficiency targets

By Gordon Calder

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SIXTY per cent of council homes in Wick are falling below energy efficiency targets, according to north MSP, Edward Mountain.

He said a Freedom of Information request revealed that of the 873 social homes in the town, 527 fell below the energy performance rating in August.

The Conservative Highlands and Islands MSP has called on the local authority to take urgent action to deal with the issue and would like to see upgrades to council homes across the north being undertaken at the same pace as those in the private rented sector.

Mr Mountain said: "Given the cost of energy crisis, the Highland Council must urgently set out its timetable for upgrading the energy efficiency of its social homes in Wick.

"If it is proposed that private rented properties have to be upgraded by 2025, then there is no reason why social rented properties should not follow the same target too. Why make social home renters in Wick wait longer for energy performance upgrades?

"We know what winters can be like in the far north so the sooner these upgrades can be rolled out, the better."

Edward Mountain wants action on energy efficiency in social housing
Edward Mountain wants action on energy efficiency in social housing

He added: "As a former surveyor, I believe the renovations required will be ambitious, often complex, and sometimes unachievable when it comes to older housing stock.

"I will continue to push the Highland Council on this issue and I am pushing for their review to be completed as a matter of urgency."

The MSP believes this is a Highland-wide issue and claims the local authority needs to set out a plan to deliver energy efficiency upgrades for all its housing stock.

He explained that Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) show a property’s energy efficiency rating and provide an indication of how much energy bills will likely be. Ratings are on a scale of A to G, with A being the best.

Mr Mountain said the Scottish Government’s Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing has stated that by December 2025, no social home should be re-let if it falls below band D. However, he pointed out that the Scottish Government is also considering the introduction of a target for all private rented sector properties to reach a minimum standard equivalent to band C by 2025, at change of tenancy.

He said Highland Council has confirmed it has commissioned a review into how much upgrading social homes to EPC band C will cost.

The John O' Groat Journal contacted the local authority for a comment but did not get a response.

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