Scottish Government unveils £9.1m in funding for local authorities to pilot new approaches to energy efficiency
Fuel poverty - credit: Holyrood magazine
The Scottish Government has made £9.1m in funding available for local authorities to pilot new approaches to energy efficiency.
Scotland’s Energy Efficiency Programme (SEEP) Pathfinder Fund will be split between businesses, community groups and individuals across 11 local authorities.
The Government said a total of £14m will be available for SEEP projects, with £9.1m of funding to be allocated to successful applicants, and the remaining funding allocated to other energy efficiency projects across Scotland.
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Energy efficiency campaigners welcomed the move as a positive step, while Scottish Green party MSP Mark Ruskell called on the Scottish Government to go further, saying the money was “a drop in the ocean compared to what we could be doing” to tackle fuel poverty.
Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities Angela Constance said: “These SEEP pilot projects will build on our existing support for households and also improve the energy efficiency of community centres, charities, businesses and commercial properties.
“Tackling fuel poverty is a priority for us, but we need to be creative if we want to make a real lasting difference. I look forward to seeing how councils can bring their innovative ideas to life to reduce energy bills and tackle fuel poverty in their communities.”
The funding is part of plans to invest over £1bn in energy efficiency by 2021.
Citizens Advice Scotland Energy spokesman Craig Salter said: “Far too many households across Scotland cannot afford to heat their homes – at present around 35 per cent of households are in fuel poverty. This funding is therefore very welcome, and it is encouraging to see the Scottish Government taking action.
“Improving energy efficiency is a fundamental aspect of addressing fuel poverty, and finding innovative, collaborative approaches at a local level is essential. As SEEP is rolled out, it is important to ensure that support reaches the areas that need it the most, including remote rural communities, and that measures fit the needs of those areas.
But Ruskell questioned the scale of the Scottish Government’s ambition.
He said: “In the last Scottish budget ministers cut funding for fuel poverty measures, and although they agree with the Greens that energy efficient housing should be a national infrastructure priority they have yet to allocate the appropriate funds. The time for pilot projects is long past. We need to be scaling this work up immediately to tackle the scourge of fuel poverty, create good jobs and cut our climate emissions.”