Bid to advance start date for renewable energy scheme

Councillor Peter Argyle
Councillor Peter Argyle

COUNCILLORS have urged their colleagues to continue lobbying the UK Government to reveal when householders can benefit from a renewable energy scheme.

The government has drawn up the renewable heat incentive (RHI) scheme, which offers financial help to anyone who instals a modern heating system.

At the moment, only commercial producers of large-scale renewable heating schemes, such as biomass boilers, are eligible. They receive a payment for each unit of energy they produce.

A date for when householders will be eligible to apply for the grants – which will range from £300 to £1,250 depending on the source of heat – is yet to be announced.

Yesterday, members of the Marr area committee agreed that their counterparts in the infrastructure services committee should lobby the government to bring forward the start date for the scheme.

Eric Wells, renewable energy development co-ordinator for Aberdeenshire Council, said: “The government’s renewable heating initiative has been around for a couple of years, and has finally reached us now.

“It is coming into effect for non-domestic users from September this year and applications for support are now available.

“However, domestic users are not yet included in the initiative. For a lot of rural Aberdeenshire, it would make sense to look at alternatives to existing energy supplies.”

Councillor Peter Argyle told the group he had written to all MPs in the north-east, asking them to raise the issue with the government.

He said: “The production of heat is more important to people in Aberdeenshire than the generation of electricity.

“The generation of heat just to keep us warm in winter is important. Any message that we can send as a committee to the infrastructure services committee to get them to continue to lobby the government is entirely right.”

Under the scheme, householders will be eligible for grants of up to £300 for installing solar panels, £950 for biomass and about £1,250 for ground source heat pumps.