Highland Lib Dem hopeful Molly Nolan hits out at 'failings' of both the Scottish and UK government's to deliver fair energy pricing for the region that produces more than it consumes yet still has to pay a 2p-per-unit surcharge
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The UK and Scottish governments have been jointly accused of letting the north down on electricity pricing.
Liberal Democrat election candidate Molly Nolan said “radical steps” were needed to lower energy bills and tackle fuel poverty in the region, calling for a fairer system of sharing charges across the country.
Orkney Islands Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur recently asked about moving to a system of fixed national pricing for power in Scotland, but energy minister Paul Wheelhouse rejected the idea saying such a system would “redistribute costs between Scottish consumers rather than reduce them”.
He added that energy pricing is reserved to the UK government – though the Scottish Government works to influence that where it can, to reflect its own priorities. These priorities include, and are reflected in, the Scottish Government’s work to promote a fair network charging regime for all Scottish energy consumers,” he said. And he added: “Network charges in the north of Scotland, despite remaining higher than other areas of Great Britain, continue to be controlled as a result of the Hydro Benefit Replacement Scheme.”
Ms Nolan said that falls short of what is needed, pointing to figures that show a third of Highlanders experience fuel poverty.
At the same time, local consumers pay a 2p-per-unit surcharge levied for the cost of distributing power here, something she said “sticks in the throat” when the Highlands in fact generates more power than it uses.
“Resolving this problem will require both of Scotland’s governments to work together,” she said. “Ministers must therefore put their political battles aside and get the job done.
She added: “The Liberal Democrats are also committing to ending the choice that too many face between a warm home or a warm meal with a national insulation programme and the new catch-up zones, focusing investment to areas where the biggest difference can be made.”