SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Alasdair Allan, has welcomed the Scottish Government’s commitment to review the current Heat in Buildings regulations for newbuilds to ensure they are appropriate for island areas. The new standards came into effect in April, and only allowed for solid fuel heating sources to be installed in new homes as an “emergency” option.

The islands’ MSP again raised constituents’ concerns in the chamber yesterday, expressing the need for clarity on the regulations and their workability in rural and island areas. In April, Allan wrote to then Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings to highlight his concern about the changes, particularly for new homes in areas not connected to gas and where power cuts can occur more frequently.

Commenting after the Minister’s announcement, Allan said:

“I am pleased to hear the clarification from the Scottish Government, which I and others sought, regarding the new regulations on the installation of solid fuel heat systems in newbuild homes.

“Stoves remain essential to the sustainable and affordable heating of many houses, not least in the islands, with their very significant levels of fuel poverty. While there was never any proposals to ban stoves in existing properties or to “effectively ban peat cutting”, despite some wilfully misrepresenting matters, it is helpful to have this commitment from the Minister to make sure that the regulations for newbuild properties are reflective of local contexts.

“I welcome the Minister’s confirmation that, while the Scottish Government wants to ensure that climate-friendly alternatives are promoted across Scotland, it also recognises there must be no unintended consequences in terms of fuel poverty and sustainability, particularly in rural communities.”

The Western Isles MSP spoke in a parliamentary debate on the subject yesterday, during which he outlined the importance of solid fuel heating systems, like wood and peat burning, for island communities. He emphasised the need for policies to fully consider the specific needs and challenges of rural communities, and to afford flexibility accordingly. 

The new Minister for Energy, Gillian Martin, responded to Alasdair Allan by letter ahead of confirming in the chamber this week that the Government had “been listening to the concerns raised by communities and will be reviewing the regulations […] with the intention to adapt them to address the issues of inflexibility that have been raised. The outcome of the review will ensure resilience to interruptions of electricity and heating supply and respect for rural communities’ culture, traditions and sustainable systems.”

Alasdair’s speech from yesterday can be viewed in full here.



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