Heat is on rural dwellers

Although the national gas grid runs within a cricket ball’s throw of Oxton, the authorities cannot find the £500,000 it would cost to pipe gas to every home in the village. Apparently, they require it for more important projects.

I have just had my latest LPG bill from new energy provider MacGas which has taken over the bulk tanks in the estate from BP, the multinational having sold all its LPG operations worldwide.

The first thing MacGas did was to “revise prices” (i.e. put them up). My bill for 47 days totalled £280.45 or £41.77 per week. This is despite having the latest model boiler fitted last year, using it sparingly and living in a well-insulated house.

One litre of LPG is now 49.95p per litre, on top of which five per cent VAT is payable, making a price of 51.98p per litre. To produce one kilowatt hour, 0.14 litre of LPG is required, costing 7.28.

Scottish Gas offer their customers connected to the national mains gas grid gas at a rate of almost half that – 3.96p/kwh. That is a difference of 46 per cent. Rural LPG dwellers who have individual LPG tanks rather than bulk tanks will be stung even more severely.

Heating oil used by home owners on my estate costs 65p per litre, although a litre of oil produces 10.5kw. Therefore, to produce one kilowatt hour using oil at this price costs 6.19p, cheaper than LPG but still 36 per cent dearer than mains gas. Electric heating, though 100 per cent efficient, comes in at around 13p per kilowatt hour.

The Sutherland Comparative Domestic Heating Costs Tables will give full information to any councillor, MSP or MP who cares about cutting the outrageous cost of heating for rural dwellers. But do politicians care? They have had years to do something about the forgotten thousands of rural residents who pay up to 50 per cent more for their fuel – and, of course, in colder upland climates rural dwellers will require to consume more.

If Midlothian Council could connect Pathhead to the national pipeline network and, I understand, intends to connect other villages thereto, why cannot Scottish Borders Council connect up Oxton? Let’s have some answers, not excuses.

William Loneskie