Earlier today, SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Alasdair Allan, convened a meeting with the Scottish Government’s Environment Minister Màiri McAllan to discuss how best to ensure the islands benefit from the massive offshore wind projects which are now planned around their shores.
Along with Angus MacNeil MP and Calum Iain MacIver, the Director for Communities at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Alasdair Allan made the case to the Scottish Government for maximising the local benefit from Scotwind, both in terms of revenues and local supply chains.
Energy legislation is reserved to the UK Government, but concerns have been growing about the fairness of transmission charges which financially penalise those living furthest from large population centres, particularly given the significant renewable energy potential in these same rural and island areas.
Allan also stressed the need for local solutions to target fuel poverty in the islands, working closely with the Comhairle, who are arguing for OFGEM to introduce a special derogation for energy costs in postcode areas with extreme fuel poverty.
Commenting after the meeting, Allan said:
“Discussions at this morning’s meeting were positive and constructive, and the Environment Minister agreed that local benefits from the Scotwind scheme should be maximised. I know that Angus MacNeil has been making representations to the UK Government on a whole range of energy issues too.
“In a place so rich in renewable energy potential, something evidenced by the new Scotwind lease sites, as well as existing renewable energy generation here in the islands, the fact that we still have the highest rates of fuel poverty in the country is unacceptable.
“People in the Western Isles should not have to face such extortionate energy prices, and the UK Government must act now, in the face of the energy bills crisis, to urgently address how electricity distribution charges are applied across the country.
“In the meantime, I welcome Màiri McAllan’s openness to work with the community on the best ways to maximise Scotwind’s benefits locally.”
(Picture credit here)