SNP call for EU investigation into electricity pricing

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The SNP have demanded actions not nice words from Liberal Democrats to end electricity pricing discrimination for electricity customers in the Highlands and Islands as well as those in Moray and Aberdeenshire.

The call came from Caithness, Sutherland and Ross MSP Rob Gibson and SNP MEP for Scotland Alyn Smith and related to the 2 pence extra per unit of power used that customers in the north – West and North East areas pay.

Community representatives from the Western Isles met with power giant SSE last week urging them to do more about the issue.

Now MEP Alyn Smith has queried whether such a difference in pricing was against European law. To that end he has raised the issue with the European Commission sighting a directive, which states the Commission should promote non-discriminatory access to users across a member state.

Mr Gibson added that it was a disgrace that the pricing discrepancy had been allowed to exist for so long and that it was time that it was ended.

He said: “Whilst Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael made nice noises about being against this price difference, the inconvenient truth for his constituents as well as all those in the Highlands and Islands, Moray and Aberdeenshire is that he and his Liberal Democrat colleagues have allowed this geography tax to go unchallenged.

“Make no mistake about it if the UK Government wanted to end this they could. They do not. It is shameful that Liberal Democrat members of Parliament who serve the North and North East have allowed this to happen for so long.

“The Liberal Democrats have been found to be severely wanting on this issue. They have been costing every single electricity user (many whom are their own constituents) in North and West as well as North East extra and let them all down badly.”

Mr Smith commented: “For Liberal Democrats politicians to call on their own Government to do something when they’ve had 5 years to act is the most cynical posturing and the people of the North will see through this shallow opportunism.

“I have every reason to believe that this practice constitutes a clear discrimination between users and a violation of EU directive concerning common rules for the internal market in electricity.

“I have written to the European Commission urging them to promote non-discriminatory access to energy across a member state and I expect the Commission to recommend that the UK Government takes immediate steps to eliminate the surcharge.

“What we have now is discrimination to those that live in one part of a member state as opposed to others. It is a question of fairness pure and simple.

“It is a shame that the UK Government don’t see this as a priority and act themselves. However, the UK Government is not one that is known for its fairness especially when it comes to Scotland.”