Cost-of-living crisis: Fuel bills in Shetland 'to hit £10k by April'
Almost every home in Shetland is expected to enter fuel poverty as bills rise to an estimated £10,300 by April.
The sum is double the prediction for the UK as a whole and it is estimated that households there will need an income of £104,000 to avoid falling into fuel poverty as charges rocket.
Emma Macdonald, leader of Shetland Islands Council, has urged Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi to act. She said: "Our islands have been at the heart of oil and gas activity for over 40 years yet our people have not seen the benefits of that in terms of a lower cost of fuel."
The cost of living in Shetland is around 20-65 per cent higher than the UK average, according to Shetland Islands Council. Higher fuel costs, a colder climate and the lack of consumer choice is said to be exacerbating the impact of the cost-of-living crisis.
Data prepared by the local authority suggests that 96 per cent of people there will spend 10 per cent of household income on home energy costs by spring. Of this group, one in four will lay out 40 per cent of their income on domestic fuel charges.
Last year Shetland residents spent an estimated total of £18m on energy between October and March. However, this is predicted to increase to £56m this winter.
The shift is despite the continued development of energy projects in the area, including the current construction of the 100-turbine Viking Energy wind farm.
Urging Zahawi to act, Macdonald said: "Shetland has contributed, and will continue to contribute, significantly to UK energy exports and yet people in our communities will struggle to heat their homes in the coming year. This is particularly ironic, given the continued development of offshore and onshore renewable energy production around Shetland.
"We are calling for UK Government support to enable host communities to secure long-term community benefit arrangements, which could include access to low-cost energy for islanders. But we also need immediate government help to address rising energy costs, which will have such a damaging impact on those who live in Shetland."
Commenting, Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart called for action by the UK and Scottish governments, saying: "My constituents already struggle with fuel poverty more than almost anywhere in the UK. These figures show the scale of the vast challenge ahead. One long-established business is saying that when they enter calculations for increasing energy costs in coming months they turn into a 'substantially loss-making entity'.
"Nicola Sturgeon must get her act together too. She needs to put every penny of the Scottish Government's budget helping hard hit households and kickstart an emergency insulation programme to bring down bills."
She added: "You shouldn't have to be a millionaire to stay warm this winter."