Shetland Islands Council has welcomed a £200,000 home insulation grant from the Scottish Government which should help islanders beat the winter cold.
The money will go to provide free insulation for houses with “virgin lofts” and “virgin cavity walls” – those with no existing insulation – and to improve insulation in homes that suffer from fuel poverty – those whose occupants spend more than 10 per cent of their income heating their homes.
Shetland is one of the worst local authority areas for fuel poverty in Scotland with 35 per cent of households qualifying compared with a national average of 28 per cent. And cases of extreme fuel poverty – defined as spending 20 per cent or more of income on heating – are just as alarming with 13 per cent of households in Shetland suffering extreme fuel poverty compared with eight per cent in Scotland as a whole.
SIC environmental health and trading standards manager Maggie Dunne said that it was a very positive step to get Scottish Government funding given the severity of the situation in Shetland, which was a “real problem”.
She said: “The best long-term solution to fuel poverty is to improve home insulation levels. We are sixth worst in all (Scottish) local authority areas and this can affect old people, young and anyone struggling to heat their homes.”
The £200,000 grant for Shetland is part of a £12.5 million Universal Home Insulation Scheme (UHIS) to be administered by local authorities over the next year and is part of a range of free home insulation measures to improve energy efficiency and reduce fuel poverty.
Highlands and Islands MSP Mike Mackenzie welcomed the fact that 200,000 homes across Scotland will be offered free help to save on energy bills.
He said: “I agree with my colleague, cabinet secretary for infrastructure and capital investment Alex Neil when he says with the onset of winter just round the corner, we need to support those most in need to help them heat their homes and stay energy efficient.”
Anyone who wants to insulate their “virgin” loft spaces or wall cavities should contact Shetland Heatwise on (01595) 695081, while those who think they might fall into the fuel poverty category should contact the one stop shop run by Hjaltland Housing Association on (01595) 741368. This is also the number for private households to ring.
Those who spend little or nothing on heat because they can’t afford it should also get in touch as the NHER rating system can tell what their household would spend on heating if their dwelling was properly heated, Ms Dunne added.