North MSP 'frustrated' by lack of firms registered to carry out energy efficient improvements in Highlands and Islands
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THE lack of firms registered to carry out energy efficient improvements in people's homes in the Highlands and Islands is "frustrating MSP, Rhoda Grant.
She raised the issue with the Scottish Government after a complaint from a constituent who was shocked to find out there is such a scarcity of installers for key areas of work in the north while those outside the area are unwilling to work in the Highlands. The person claimed there is "a huge gap in the supply chain."
"This means that households in the Highlands are excluded from £15,000 loan support (with up to £5000 cash back) for insulating our homes while households in all other parts of Scotland can access this support," he said.
Home Energy Scotland, which highlights energy efficiency improvements on heating and insulation and can provide loans, told Mrs Grant that finding a certified installer in the Highlands and Islands could be "very difficult".
The MSP pointed out that householders can appeal to the Scottish Government to use a non-Green Deal installer but stressed that granting an exemption cannot be guaranteed.
"Householders in the region are more in need of green home energy improvements due to the colder weather and, in some villages and towns, the age of their homes. So, I get exasperated about these Government schemes that encourage people to apply for help, because much of the time the Highlands and Islands is forgotten about."
Patrick Harvie, the Scottish Government's Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings and the co-leader of the Scottish Greens, admitted there is a shortage of registered installers in the Highlands and Islands.
"We are continuing to work with sector skill bodies, trade bodies and other key stakeholders to enable companies to develop the skill requirements needed for energy efficiency. Further information on this work will be released in 2022. In situations where applicants for the Home Energy Scotland Loans are having difficulties locating a registered installer, we continue to monitor this situation."
Mr Harvie stressed that non-registered installers could be taken on by householders, in exceptional circumstances through an appeal process but it would be on a case-by-case basis.
Mrs Grant said: "It’s just another example of Ministers almost writing off the region and it is so, so frustrating. Waiting until 2022 for more information on how we can skill up our own workforce is just so annoying for those wanting to upgrade.
"Saving the environment is hitting the headlines with COP26 but again there’s more obstacles in the way of those who are trying to be greener," she added.