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DREW HENDRY: We must tackle energy market inequity right now

By Drew Hendry

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Our energy bills can be higher than elsewhere.
Our energy bills can be higher than elsewhere.

Parliament has been back in full swing since my last article. Frustratingly, the Finance Bill passed through parliament almost entirely ignoring the cost-of-living crisis.

Then, last week there was more Tory infighting about how quickly they can ship vulnerable people to Rwanda, at huge expense to taxpayers and human rights. It might be a new year, but the Prime Minister's priorities are the same – and, in my opinion they are all wrong.

The cost-of-living crisis and particularly soaring energy costs facing people in the Highlands continue to be at top of my agenda at Westminster and here at home. Despite the Highland’s significant contribution to the UK’s renewable energy, our communities face some of the highest energy bills in the UK and fuel poverty. To make matters worse, we use more electricity because of our climate, and large parts of our region are off the gas grid.

That’s why, along with my colleague Brendan O’Hara MP, I launched the Highland Energy Rebate campaign.

The proposal aims to address the disproportionate energy costs residents in the Highlands and Islands face while acknowledging our contribution to achieving net zero ambitions.

We are proposing a rebate scheme to offer financial relief to the residents, paralleling the compensation measures the Chancellor announced for those living near new energy infrastructures like pylons.

Ultimately, the challenge is for the Chancellor to accept the moral imperative here. Introducing the scheme here can also serve as a blueprint for other regions in the future, tackling energy market inequity once and for all.

The scheme’s potential benefits — reducing fuel poverty, supporting local economies, and advancing renewable energy — are substantial.

Of course, changing policy usually takes a lot of effort, and many people in our community are struggling now. January and February are difficult months for most, but at a time when bills are higher and the cold weather has settled it, it only gets harder.

If you need help or are worried about someone, please seek support. My team and I are always on hand to help; if we don’t have the answer, we will point you in the right direction.

Many local charities and community groups are also eager to help – please don’t suffer alone and in silence. You can visit the support hub on my website or message me at www.drewhendrymp.scot any time.

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