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Cabinet Secretary Kate Forbes to speak at Sutherland Fuel Poverty Summit

By Caroline McMorran

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Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Economy Kate Forbes MSP, is among a high-powered line-up of speakers who will take part in the online Sutherland Fuel Poverty Summit on October 8.

Also appearing virtually will be Sutherland MSP Maree Todd, Professor Donald Hirsch who leads the Minimum Income Survey UK research team at Loughborough University, and Magnus Davidson from the University of the Highlands and Islands.

Sutherland Fuel Poverty Summit takes place on October 8.
Sutherland Fuel Poverty Summit takes place on October 8.

Topics to be discussed include the currently available home insulation and heating solutions, green electricity generation in the Highlands and Islands, a ‘Just Transition’ to Net Zero, and how the Scottish Government aims to address rural fuel poverty in its new Scottish Fuel Poverty Strategy which will be announced later this year.

The outcome of the Sutherland Affordable Warmth Survey will be presented at the summit. Commissioned by the Sutherland Community Partnership fuel poverty sub-group, the survey was conducted by Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust (KoSDT) and East and Central Sutherland CAB.

Householders in the county were canvassed on how affordable it was to adequately heat their homes.

Recent research has shown that prior to the onset of COVID-19, one in four children in Sutherland were living in poverty and one in three households in Sutherland were living in extreme fuel poverty.

A report on the summit discussions will later be drawn up in order to identify practical solutions to the fuel poverty problem in Sutherland.

KoSDT manager David Watson said: “This conference has a really terrific line-up of speakers and should be a must not just for local residents with an interest in fuel poverty issues but every organisation and agency with responsibilities for helping people keep their homes warm affordably during our long Highland winters.”

Sutherland resident Di Alexander, who chairs the Highlands and Islands Housing Associations Affordable Warmth Group, said: “This will be a solution-finding conference about the chronic fuel poverty problems which have been dogging rural Scotland in general and Sutherland in particular for too long.”

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