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EDWARD MOUNTAIN: District heating systems could be disastrous for the Highlands

By Scott Maclennan

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A woman holding a bill in front of radiator.
A woman holding a bill in front of radiator.

As we strive to move towards protecting our environment, it is clear that it will be a bumpy road. There is little doubt that district heating systems and electrification of our central heating won’t be the answer for us all. Indeed, this policy, promoted by the unrealistic Greens, which might well suit the central belt, could be disastrous in the Highland and Islands.

It is all very well having targets but if the targets are unobtainable, prohibitively expensive, and likely to alienate the population then they have all the right ingredients needed to ensure failure. This failure could ensure that all of our aspirations to help save the planet are damaged.

In the last few months, I have listened to how heat pumps are going to save the world by decarbonising our homes. Sadly, they are not the ‘silver bullet’ that they are touted to be. To make heat pumps work you firstly must buy one!

Having done that, you will need to change your radiators and pipe work. As part of the process the house will need to be fully insulated, not just the roof and floors but also all the external walls.

Of course, that will also mean that if you don’t have at least double-glazed windows you will have to get these and probably a new door as well. As result of this you will need to have your home fully redecorated.

When you are doing all of this you might also have to rewire the property and install LED lights. None of this is cheap and if you haven’t started to add up the pounds that it will cost, let me help you.

In an average two-bedroom detached property the costs are likely to be about £40,000. Unaffordable to most but when you then find out it will take possibly 50 years to pay for this from savings on fuel costs you might struggle to see how we can afford this.

The trouble is of course if you don’t do this work there are going to be sanctions – the government is proposing to stop you selling your home and perhaps even living in it. We need some realism in this policy which is sadly lacking.

Whilst we can all sign up to what it is trying to be achieved, if we can’t to deliver it then we need to go back to the drawing board. That of course will need Patrick Harvie to listen and trying to achieve that frightens me.

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