by Fi Thomson, community worker in Moray
One of the first community meetings I went to was a get together to discuss Burghead, Cummingston and Hopeman becoming less reliant on oil and electricity and maybe even producing their own energy. There was interest in renewable and energy and the idea of a development trust to implement it, but it soon became apparent that uppermost in people’s minds, was the cost of heating the old housing stock and how this adversely affected those living on the Moray Coast and what if anything could be done about it.
About a month later I attended a Burghead & Cummingston Community Council, (BCCC) meeting where I met Joan Megson, Jim Patterson and Liz Mcknockiter who had also noted how badly affected people were and how they would like to do something. A subgroup emerged, and with new member- Dani Slater- and we were off!
45% of households in Moray are fuel poor against 31% in Scotland and 62% of those are older people. This is most likely because there are large parts of Moray off gas and the fact that many of those are also struggling with dual meters for economy 7 and Total Heat Total Control (THTC) systems. The dual meters make it nearly impossible to switch to cheaper supplies as they are not supported by most suppliers leaving only SSE. The storage heaters are old and inefficient needing supplementary heating to keep warm. The subgroup decided that it was not worth campaigning to get gas into the area as this was the chance to get climate friendly and use the hours of sunshine available up here. We were going renewable.
We were beginning to hear stories about huge electricity bills and very cold people, particularly older people and those with young children. The group decided to put out a survey to see how big the problem was and to arrange a town hall event to advise people on what they could do to help save some money. Word was already beginning to get out and we were getting offers of help to deliver the survey door to door and set up collection points in the town.
We went to chat to AES Solar and Plumbing and Renewables in Burghead about what could be done- and got things rolling with a meeting to get a steering group going for a development Trust.
The survey garnered a huge 200 responses and the drop-in meeting and brilliant pop up café (Burghead Community Hall Committee did us proud) was attended by 150-200 people, including Richard Lochhead MSP and Loiuse Laing Moray Councillor. Home energy Scotland and REAP were there to advise on energy saving and information stalls on renewable energy and electric cars. BCCC were very inspired with what is happening in Huntly and hoped to match their scope and ambition.
Watch this space as we move towards a greener future!
Rural Wisdom in the media