As the Tory Cost of Living Crisis begins to bite across the Highlands and Islands, ways to mitigate its effects should be the focus of every politician – at Westminster, Holyrood and the councillors being elected this week to Scotland’s local authorities.
The rising costs have been the focus of the SNP campaign across the country, and featured in conversations on doorsteps in the areas where I supported SNP council candidates ahead of polling day on Thursday.
With that in mind, I took the opportunity this week to ask the Scottish Government what assessment it has made of the potential impact on households and businesses in Scotland of the National Grid’s locational pricing system. This was on the back of a Scottish Renewables assessment that transmission charges make projects in Scotland almost 20% more expensive than equivalent projects in the south of England.
As folk in Orkney will be all too commonly aware, Scotland is a net exporter of energy — we export 18 times more to England than we receive back — and yet there are warnings that National Grid’s new locational pricing system could create a postcode pricing system in the middle of a cost of living crisis.
I was keen to know whether Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport, Michael Matheson, was concerned that the plans could penalise Scotland’s renewables sector when Scotland has the ambition to be the green energy capital of Europe.
Also, as we are in the midst of this cost of living crisis, I suggested that the UK Government, which holds the key levers of power on the issue, should urgently step up and do more to help those who are hardest hit by energy grid charges.
Michael Matheson said he was deeply concerned by the proposal to move to a locational pricing system and by the lack of consideration that had been given to Scottish Government targets.
He stressed that it was vital that net zero targets are delivered at the lowest cost to consumers and that it is done so in a way that does not penalise developers for taking forward projects in the best location.
I was pleased to get his assurance that the Scottish Government will continue to press the UK Government on the issue, and that everything will be done to ensure that Scottish renewable energy projects receive the level playing field that they deserve with projects that are being taken forward across the rest of the UK.
Linked to this, many constituents have come to me for help due to suffering the effects of this Tory Cost of Living Crisis. To help me better understand how this is affecting people in Orkney, and across the Highlands and Islands, and so that I and my team can assist with any specific issues folk are facing, I would be grateful if readers would take two minutes to fill in my Cost of Living Survey.
It is accessible via a link on my Emma Roddick MSP Facebook page – or here https://erodd.surveysparrow.com/s/cost-of-living-survey-2022/tt-7ea417
This is a regular column by SNP MSP Emma Roddick. All Regional Highlands and Islands MSPs have been offered the same space in The Orkney News to share their personal views.