Robert Leslie, SNP candidate for Orkney & Shetland, has called for the public ownership of energy in an independent Scotland.
Robert Leslie was speaking at the SNP Aberdeen Conference during a motion on bringing energy into public ownership where he said that it was deplorable in a renewables rich Orkney that households were rationing electricity usage by over 50% and instead burning imported gas in portable heaters to keep their homes warm.
“Breaking the price link between electricity and gas should be a no brainer when Orkney generates more clean, green electricity than we can use — and we don’t have mains gas.”
He highlighted how, between 2019 and 2022, the value of electricity vouchers issued by affordable warmth charity THAW Orkney escalated from just over £4000 to almost £33,000.
“Alongside that, in 2021-22 the charity used £41,400 of Scottish Government flexible funding for financial insecurity to enhance electricity voucher values, including tripling the value of vouchers to families with children from £30 to £90 — to recognise the rising cost of electricity.
“At the same time over £107,000 of Scottish Government Home Heating Support Fund awards helped over 200 Orkney households keep their heating on. These scenarios will have been replicated across Scotland as energy costs rocketed.
“The SNP government is spending tens of millions of pounds mitigating the impacts of the UK’s broken energy system.
“We need the powers to make Scotland’s energy work for Scotland’s people — not shareholders.”
Mr Leslie said that the impact of rising electricity costs went beyond cold, damp homes.
“Poor physical and mental health, social isolation and folk leaving their communities for urban areas all spin off from this. Fuel poverty is a driver of rural and island depopulation.”
Mr Leslie also described how Orkney electricity customers often had to fight to get broken meters replaced, with hours on phones or online chats spent persuading companies to send engineers from mainland Scotland.
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