SNP/Greens vote down Northern Isles ferries and fuel poverty priorities

The Scottish Government have voted down an amendment calling for targeted support for ferry replacement and tackling fuel poverty in Orkney and Shetland.

It came as MSPs debated yesterday proposals that will see six islands, including Hoy and Yell, supported to become fully carbon neutral by 2040.

Orkney's MSP, Liam McArthur, lodged an amendment to the government motion calling on the Northern Isles' internal ferries to be included in the Islands Connectivity Plan which is set to replace the National Ferries Plan.

Mr McArthur's amendment also called for more targeted support to retrofit homes in island communities which suffer from the highest levels of fuel poverty in the country.

Commenting, Mr McArthur said:

"Islanders and island communities are already leading the way when it comes to decarbonisation and tackling the threats of climate change.  Indeed, Orkney has developed a reputation for world-leading innovation over the years, from the development of renewable energy to the use of that energy in areas such as transport and heat.

"While it is welcome that the government plans to support six islands to become carbon neutral by 2040, this cannot be the sum of its ambition.  This must be a process that includes and supports all islands.  Key to that, of course, will be reducing emissions from transport and heat.  In that context, the exclusion of Orkney and Shetland’s internal ferry services from the government’s Connectivity Plan makes absolutely no sense at all.

"Any ambition to create carbon neutral islands cannot ignore the urgent need to deliver low-emission ferries. That can only be achieved with government support.  So too when it comes to reducing emissions from heat. Island communities, such as Orkney, suffer the highest levels of fuel poverty in the country and measures to combat this are more challenging and costly to deliver.

"That is why we need a targeted plan of support that prioritises resources where the need is greatest.  On both these issues, it is hard to understand why SNP and Green MSPs felt unable to offer their support.  Tackling fuel poverty and delivering low-emission ferries offers a double benefit not just for the environment, but the sustainability of our island communities."

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