Page last updated at 00:22 GMT, Sunday, 8 February 2009

Call for rural energy guarantee

House with red areas showing where heat is lost
Mr Maxwell wants more investment for energy efficient homes

More must be done to help Scottish communities benefit from energy efficiency measures, Communities Minister Stewart Maxwell has said.

He said energy companies and the UK Government must increase spending on such measures.

And he called for a "cast iron guarantee" that new energy investment would include Scotland's rural and island communities.

The UK Government is due to consult on new heat and energy saving targets.

Proposals include a 20% increase of the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (Cert) obligation on energy suppliers to significantly increase the number of households benefiting from energy saving measures.

Cert is an initiative that places an obligation on companies to provide households with subsidised energy efficiency measures, such as cavity wall and loft insulation, energy efficient appliances and low energy light bulbs.

We need a cast iron guarantee that new energy investment includes Scotland's rural and island communities
Stewart Maxwell
Communities Minister

The increased Cert target could mean an additional investment of 20m a year in Scotland, taking total possible investment through Cert north of the border to about 100m a year.

Mr Maxwell said: "This week has seen temperatures drop across Scotland at a time when the fuel poor are making stark choices between whether to eat or heat their homes.

"Scottish communities must reap the benefits from Cert and Cesp (Community Energy Saving Programme) funding programmes.

"We need a cast iron guarantee that new energy investment includes Scotland's rural and island communities.

"They are paying into the costs of the programmes through their fuel bills, so it's essential they are not frozen out."

Mr Maxwell will chair the second meeting of the Scottish Cert Strategy Steering Group on Tuesday.

It brings together key players from energy companies to help boost energy efficiency investment north of the border.

Another proposed energy efficiency measure, the Community Energy Saving Programme, places an obligation on energy suppliers to achieve an overall carbon emission reduction target, worth 350m across the UK over the next three years.

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