Hopes that changes to building regulations will reduce fuel poverty in Orkney

Fuel poverty in Orkney was on the agenda at the Scottish Parliament yesterday.

Orkney MSP Liam McArthur is hopeful, following a meeting with Local Government Minister Marco Biagi, that a solution can be found that would enable more affordable homes to be built in Orkney that are less costly to run.

Mr McArthur sought the meeting in parliament yesterday after concerns were raised by the local construction sector in Orkney that national building regulations are having the effect of limiting scope for installing insulation in new build properties.

Stephen Kemp of Orkney Builders also attended the meeting and explained in detail to the Minister the problems caused by a unique combination of circumstances in Orkney which have resulted in unnecessary or over-large renewable energy devices being installed in homes that then become more costly to run.

The Minister acknowledged that Orkney does appear to represent very specific challenges in terms of the way in which the current SAP building regulations apply. He has therefore instructed his officials to work with Mr Kemp to see if a solution can be found that addresses these problems without creating loopholes that could be exploited to undermine wider environmental and fuel poverty objectives.

Commenting on the outcome of the meeting, Mr McArthur said: “I am grateful to the Minister for the constructive way that he and his officials engaged with this issue. There is clearly now a better understanding within the Scottish Government about the specific circumstances in Orkney that are giving rise to problems in the way in which current national building regulations are applied.

“It goes without saying that we should be building houses that are as energy-efficient as possible. This helps reduce fuel bills and keep down running costs for householders.

“Unfortunately, the way in which building regulations apply at present is pushing developers down the route of installing renewable energy devices rather than maximising the amount of insulation that is used.  That is a particular problem when it comes to new houses that are targeted at the more affordable end of the marked.

“With levels of fuel poverty in Orkney now higher than anywhere else in the country, it is imperative that every effort is made to reduce bills wherever possible.I welcome the Minister’s willingness to look again at what can be done in relation to building regulations and am confident that a solution can be found.”