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SNP MP to lead debate on fairer energy pricing for Highlands and Islands

By Andrew Dixon

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Drew Hendry.
Drew Hendry.

Residents living in the Highlands and Islands pay higher energy costs than other parts of the UK.

This Wednesday, Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey SNP MP Drew Hendry will lead a debate in parliament at 9.30am, urging the UK government to implement an energy rebate for people living in the area.

Households across the region are paying the highest electricity standing charges in the UK – the cost that is applied every day – and around 50 per cent more than in London, despite having higher bills due to a colder climate and living in an area that generates more wind and hydro power than anywhere else in the UK.

This latest debate follows the launch of the Highland Energy Rebate campaign in January by Mr Hendry, which has since gained wide support from Highland stakeholders. Mr Hendry met with the minister for energy security and net zero ahead of the the debate to discuss the Highland Energy Rebate proposal.

The campaign advocates for a fair rebate scheme for Highlands and Islands residents, who significantly contribute to the UK’s renewable energy production but face higher energy costs than many other regions of the UK.

In the autumn statement, the Chancellor announced a new funding scheme for those living next to new power infrastructure, such as pylons. Mr Hendry believes this new scheme presents an opportunity for the Chancellor to create a similar scheme for residents in the Highlands and Islands region, recognising the inequity of the current energy market and the region's unique contribution to renewables.

A recent Scottish Islands Data publication looking at island and rural local authorities in the north of Scotland stated that ‘almost two-thirds (65 per cent) of rural dwellings are not connected to the gas grid and therefore have to rely on more expensive heating fuel such as electricity and oil’, pushing households further into fuel poverty.

Mr Hendry said: “It’s unfair that people in the Highlands and Islands continue to pay more for energy when we live in a place that produces more renewable energy than we need to use. The Highland Energy Rebate is not just a policy proposal; it's a call for fairness and equity in energy pricing and offers a sustainable model for the UK government to implement to secure its path to net zero.

"We pay higher bills, have higher usage due to the cold climate we live in, and face the highest levels of fuel poverty – all as a region that produces the most renewable energy through wind and hydro in the UK, and exports a large portion of it.

"Why should people in the Highlands and Islands be paying up to 50 per cent more for their electricity standing charges than people living in London? This campaign aims to rectify this imbalance.

"This matter is wholly reserved, so I am urging the UK government to recognise the unique circumstances of our region and to implement a fair energy pricing and rebate scheme.

"In the autumn, the Chancellor has stated he will provide funding for those living next to new power infrastructure, so why not those living with existing infrastructure?”

Mr Hendry believes the proposed rebate scheme will alleviate the financial strain of high energy costs on households and believes the scheme could be a pilot scheme that could be rolled out to other regions contributing significantly to the energy market.

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