Citizens Advice Scotland has welcomed the passage of the Heat Networks Bill in the Scottish Parliament today.
Heat networks – where multiple buildings share a single heating source – are becoming increasingly common in Scotland and aim to reduce individual consumer bills while also cutting harmful emissions.
In particular CAS has welcomed the bill’s inclusion of measures that will protect house-holders from problems when heat networks fail to work effectively.
Kate Morrison, CAS Fair Markets spokesperson said:
“We are pleased that the Parliament has passed this bill, which is an important step towards reducing fuel poverty and also reaching Scotland’s net-zero emissions targets.
“Heat networks are a great idea in principle because they can reduce the fuel bills in the homes within the network while also cutting the amount of harmful emissions. However, they sometimes go wrong in practice, and when they do it is often the consumers who suffer.
“The Scottish CAB network sees first hand the types of issues that can face house-holders when this happens and we have long called for better regulation of the sector. We believe heat network consumers should be afforded the same service standards and protections as consumers of the gas and electricity markets – which are well-regulated. This bill takes important steps in that direction.
“We are especially pleased to see that, following our recommendations, the principles of community engagement and ‘just transition’ are included on the face of the bill, as this follows the positive trend of increasing the rights of communities to be involved in decisions that affect them.
“When done well, community engagement delivers both community and organisational benefits. Good planning and preparation on the part of a heat network can help providers identify consumers who are struggling with bills early and act to help them avoid falling into fuel poverty and accumulating fuel debt.”