War in Ukraine set to push energy bills even higher in the Highlands with fuel poverty rates already among the worst in Scotland
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Households in the Highlands – where fuel poverty rates are already among the worst in Scotland – could face even higher energy bills due to the conflict in Ukraine, an economist has warned.
Average annual energy bills are already set to rise to about £2000 when the new energy price cap takes effect next month but the impact is set to be harder in the Highlands where bills are disproportionately higher.
Energy Action Scotland says the new prices could push 47 per cent of Highland households into fuel poverty .
But the energy industry is now warning UK energy bills could reach as high as £3000 a year as oil and gas prices surge following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Highland economist Tony Mackay says residents in the Highlands, where average incomes are well below the national average, will be “very badly hit”.
“Scotland does not import any gas from Russia and only about three per cent of our oil products, so theoretically the crisis in Ukraine should have little impact on us,” he said.
“However, the prices the gas, oil and energy suppliers pay are linked to the world prices because of international trading, so the Scottish/UK suppliers are increasing their prices enormously.
"Gas and electricity prices in the Highlands are already the highest in the UK because of our geography and small population.
“Unfortunately there is little or no chance of us escaping further big rises.
“Even if the Ukraine-Russia crisis is resolved soon, the big energy companies are unlikely to reduce their prices in the near future.”
Highlands and Islands Green party members say they are alarmed that the UK is funding Putin’s horrendous war on Ukraine by buying Russian gas and oil at very high prices.
Anne Thomas, the party’s prospective candidate for the Black Isle, said: “The recent vigils in Inverness have highlighted local desire to stand in solidarity with Ukraine at this terrible time.
"One way we can do this is to stop buying Russian gas and oil. If we properly insulate all buildings and power and heat them with renewable energy this will make us energy independent as well as reducing fuel poverty and combating climate change.”
The issues of fuel poverty have been highlighted by the Inverness Courier as part of our End The Chill campaign.
In the Highlands, 33 per cent of all households currently live in fuel poverty.
Only the Western Isles fares worse among all 32 Scottish local authorities.