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Some people being forced to choose to ‘Eat or Heat’ - Jennifer McCann MLA

14 May, 2008

Speaking in an Assembly debate on the Sustainable Energy Market, Sinn Féin MLA Jennifer McCann has called on the Executive to adopt a policy of promoting sustainable and renewal energy in an effort to tackle fuel poverty.

Ms McCann said,

"The energy needs of a modern society will only be met by adopting a renewable and sustainable energy strategy that will not only protect the environment but help eradicate fuel poverty.

"The rising costs of fossil fuels are having a major impact on households especially those on low incomes. Many people find it near impossible to afford the price of oil or gas to heat their homes and with distributors passing on the costs of transport many other basic items including food has risen considerably over the past few months. Many pensioners and other people on fixed income are being forced into a choice of 'eat or heat'. This is an unacceptable state of affairs and the Executive needs to do all that it can to address this worsening problem.

"We need to adopt a comprehensive policy that will offset this dependency on fossil fuel and promote a strategy of implementation of renewable energy sources. This will only be achieved if all Executive departments adopt and promote this strategy.

"The decision taken by the Housing Executive to convert all their homes to oil or gas will mean that many people will not be able to afford heating in the months ahead and this is a policy that needs to be reviewed. People must be allowed a choice to adopt a more affordable method of home heating if we are to avoid hardship especially on the elderly and those on low incomes." ENDS

Note to Editors

Motion - Fuel Poverty and Sustainable Energy

That this Assembly notes the recommendations in the review of the Sustainable Energy Market; and calls on the Executive to ensure that there is closer co-operation between different departments to ensure that sustainable energy, including renewable energy, is developed in such a way that benefits the environment, and tackles the socio-economic problems that face families due to fuel poverty.

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