Home   News   Article

NESS NOTEBOOK BY DAVID SUTHERLAND: I'm alarmed at the thought of elderly folk turning off the heat

By David Sutherland

Register for free to read more of the latest local news. It's easy and will only take a moment.

Click here to sign up to our free newsletters!
Trunk roads in the area need upgrading for a range of reasons.
Trunk roads in the area need upgrading for a range of reasons.

As the leaves fall in our Highland autumn, local people are increasingly looking ahead to October 1, when the energy price caps soar quicker than NASA’s lunar rocket.

The effect on family budgets and small and medium-sized businesses will be damaging this winter – and the politicians need to rise to the occasion.

With Raigmore Hospital facing fierce pressure and mounting heating bills, and local care homes in a similar situation, the scenario is a daunting one.

Liz Truss is finally Prime Minister after a party election that seemed to go on forever at a time when there was a leadership vacuum. She needs to face up to a raft of potentially catastrophic outcomes and start coming up with solutions which address people’s concerns about energy bills.

Winter in our neck of the woods can be particularly brutal at times, and I’m alarmed at the thought of elderly people turning off their heating because they can’t afford it. They need assistance from both UK and Scottish governments.

People in the UK are projected to lose over eight per cent of their spending power in 2022 due to energy costs – double that of the European Union countries.

We need to address our energy mix. Right now, gas supplies 40 per cent of UK power – and it costs nine times as much to produce as wind and solar. It’s vital that we vastly accelerate the roll out of wind and solar projects, including fast-tracking the planning process.

Nuclear used to be “the baddie” on the energy front, but because it doesn’t use carbon dioxide or methane it’s now a “goodie” in terms of helping to meet our greenhouse gas reduction target.

While nuclear provides 15 per cent of energy in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, it is much less here due to the Scottish Government’s long-held determination to refuse to allow new nuclear plants north of the border. Meanwhile, our existing ones are in decline – while England looks at two huge nuclear projects.

Scotland shouldn’t be increasingly disadvantaged when it comes to heating and lighting costs. In the new situation triggered by Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon needs to think again and allow updated nuclear.

What’s also required is a large-scale insulation programme for domestic and business properties. Both London and Edinburgh have failed to deliver the scale that was needed to combat the leakage of heat from buildings.

I would like to see a UK “Brains Trust” set up, bringing on board people of intellectual capacity to work together in the spirit of national unity and devise the best way forward.

Such a think-tank, working behind the scenes to advise, could help bring some much-needed stability and forward


For instance, it could include Ruth Davidson, Tony Blair, David Cameron, Michael Gove, Alastair Darling, George Osborne, Ed Davey and our former MP Danny Alexander.

Add on the likes of Welsh leader Mark Drakeford, former Northern Irish First Minister Arlene Foster and perhaps local MSP Fergus Ewing, no longer in the Scottish Government, and you have a team able to take an expert and hopefully independent overview and make a strategic contribution.

We need to come together at a time like this!

Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More