Peat Bank idea mooted to address fuel poverty issues

Peat banks could be used in fight against fuel poverty.
Peat banks could be used in fight against fuel poverty.

Ahead of a fuel poverty conference to be hosted in Stornoway next week a local group has called for more use of the Islands’ peat resources.

The Common Weal group have questioned whether such conferences accomplish achievable objectives and want local communities to establish a ‘Peat Bank’ scheme in a similar way to how food banks work.

A spokesman for the group explained: “We are a grassroots organisation campaigning for social and economic equality and believe that our council and other decision-making bodies are not taking the fuel poverty issue as seriously as we believe they should. Fuel poverty is chiefly the result of: Inefficient housing; Low incomes and High energy costs.

“As a community focused group we urge the conference to explore ways where we can all make a difference on the ground in our own communities.

“Crofting communities have always helped each other out. If someone is ill people get together as a group to get their peats cut. What we are suggesting with the ‘Peat Bank’ is to see if communities can formalise this a bit more in a co-ordinated scheme, and get local volunteers together to cut a number of peat banks that haven’t been used in a long time and provide fuel for those who really need it.

“The group also recognise though that it’s not a sustainable option, and also want to see exploration of the the recycling of waste wood as fuel, and the establishment of planting schemes to create cheap fuel sources.”

The spokesman added: “We look forward to seeing some truly practical recommendations coming from the Fuel Poverty conference.”