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7 February 2006

Stevenson Warns Of Increase In Fuel Poverty If Gas Price Rise Goes Ahead

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banff & Buchan, today (Tuesday) warned energy company Scottish Gas that it risks plunging thousands of vulnerable Scots into fuel poverty if it proceeds with a reported 25% price rise this month.

Mr Stevenson’s comments follow the admission by Trade & Industry Secretary Alan Johnson that rising prices could force another million people across Britain into fuel poverty.

Mr Stevenson said:

“The reported increase of 25% which Scottish Gas seems set to announce to customers later this month is alarming in the extreme. If it does indeed go ahead it would mean that the company has raised its prices by a total of 45% over the past 18 months.

“Not only that, it is not even as if Scotland is as yet reliant on gas from overseas any way. In fact we sit on very large natural reserves of gas and it is ironic that in spite of this enviable situation, it is Scottish consumers who seem likely to have to pay through the nose for the product.

“Even more ironic is the fact that around 50 per cent of the UK’s gas comes ashore in Banff & Buchan at St Fergus, yet energy-rich Scotland will still have to suffer these price hikes.

“In the meantime however, rises of this nature will not just inconvenience all Scottish Gas customers. At worst they could will plunge thousands of Scots deeper into fuel poverty in a country where more than 28,000 people over 65 died of cold-related illnesses last year.

“This situation makes it imperative that research and development into all viable renewable technologies is progressed in a co-ordinated and intelligent manner.”

Stewart Stevenson
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