The conference held in the auditorium of An Lanntair was opened by Cllr Angus Campbell, Leader of the Comhairle and Norrie Kerr, Director of Energy Action Scotland along with Stewart Wilson, Director Tighean Innse Gall.
On the subject of definitions of fuel poverty and demographics here in the Western Isles the conference was addressed by Professor Sir John Hills of the London School of Economics and Greg Mackracken of Age Scotland.
Professor Christine Liddell of Ulster University and Professor Anne Power of the London School of Economics tackled the extent of fuel poverty and solutions to tackle it. The solutions both agreed centred around tackling the fabric of homes here in the Western Isles, i.e. more insulation, better heating systems and access to finance to pay for them.
Three workshops were held, one on a ‘boots on the ground strategy’, i.e. visiting every home to see what measures are relevant to that household and explore ways of funding such a project; one reflected on potential use of renewable energy both at a household level and at a community or district approach and thirdly the Comhairle with their consultants led a workshop on the potential Energy Services Company for the Western Isles.
Donald Nicholson, Chair of TIG said:
“The conference benefitted from world class speakers who brought ideas, vision and examples of what has worked across Europe. Attendees have showered praise on the event as it helps us shape future work in tackling fuel poverty in the Western Isles. I was very pleased to see how people really inputted into the workshops. For example, the Director of Public Health was very keen on pursuing a project to help tackle people who live in cold damp homes constantly ending up in hospital through ill health because of the home circumstances. Norrie Kerr from Energy Action Scotland is now exploring funding to enable this to happen.”