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MSP EMMA RODDICK: The UK government must listen to the clamour from the Highlands about the high cost of paying for electricity arguing that 'unfair Ofgem surcharges must go'

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MSP Emma Roddick.
MSP Emma Roddick.

Particularly when an election is coming up, we spend a lot of time and energy in the Highlands talking about all the things in politics that don’t work, or that we don’t like. However, we are getting some things right, and there are a lot of things worth celebrating.

Recently, I had the pleasure of sponsoring my first event in Holyrood: “Rising Tides: Globally Significant Energy Research”. Organised by University of the Highlands and Islands Acting Vice-Principal Professor Donna Heddle, the event showcased the revolutionary potential of the energy research undertaken in the region by the University and international groups such as the Bryden Centre.

It is an unavoidable and harsh truth that this month’s energy price cap rise is another blow to households across Scotland currently experiencing the effects of the Tory cost of living crisis.

Many of my constituents ask – why is electricity in the Highlands and Islands so expensive, when the renewable energy potential is right there, on our shores? It is a good question and a problem that I know we must resolve. The UK Government must listen to the clamour from Highlanders and Islanders and abolish the unfair Ofgem surcharges, which continue to make energy prices here so expensive.

For that reason, it was timely to focus on world-leading research in renewable and low-carbon energy currently taking place across the region for my first sponsored event as an MSP in the Scottish Parliament.

I believe with all my heart in the potential of this region and its people to find answers to our energy issues. It was wonderful to have this opportunity to highlight to my parliamentary colleagues just how much of not just the development but the study of what we can do with our resources is being done here, by UHI and its international partners.

The existence of a university which works for, and not just in, the Highlands and Islands is a critical part of providing the case we need for investment and development at a national level, and to prepare us to act if and when we do get the powers to control our own energy policy.

In other news worth shouting about, the Minister for Land Reform, Mairi McAllan, has announced that the new Scottish Land Fund has now awarded £6.5m to over 80 projects so far this year. The inequalities in land ownership remain stark in the Highlands, but small actions like this, alongside the new Land Reform Bill next year, are chipping away at historic injustices.

It is a shame this news came the same week as it was shared that Oscar nominees were given souvenir land in their goody bags at this year’s awards. Our land is not a novelty gift for some of the wealthiest people in the world to amuse themselves with: it belongs to our communities who live, work, study, grow and prosper in the Highlands and Islands. I will keep supporting measures which will ensure that is, finally, reflected in law.

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