MSP Bill Walker urges Fifers to call Home Heat Helpline

Bill Walker MSP at the Scottish Parliament launch of the Home Heat Helpline, with Christine McGourty, Director of Communications & Public Affairs, Energy UK

New research reveals that around 19,600, or 12%, of households in Fife are entitled to help with their energy costs, a figure comparable with Scotland taken as a whole. The news has prompted Dunfermline MSP Bill Walker to encourage Fifers to call a free helpline offering information about available assistance.

The Home Heat Helpline (0800 33 66 99) is an impartial and confidential service connecting people and families on low incomes, and those in poor health, with support worth an average of £160. The help available includes discounts, rebate schemes, and grants for insulation and new boilers.

Speaking at the helpline’s recent Scottish Parliament launch, Mr Walker said: Read more of this post

Fracking in Fife?

Many constituents have contacted me with concerns about fracking, the hydraulic fracturing of underground shale rock to release gas. This procedure, though known for decades, has come to prominence following massive exploitation in America, which has seen gas released for use at greatly reduced prices.

Masses of gas, reasonably accessible at current economic costs, lie underground throughout the UK. When used to generate electricity, shale gas produces less CO2 emissions than coal. But potential downsides of fracking include the risk of interfering with the underground water-table on which we depend. Also, explosive charges used underground in Lancashire caused two minor tremors. Another concern is that funding could be diverted from long-term development of sustainable and renewable natural energy sources such as wind and marine.

I believe there is a case for further practical evaluation of shale gas extraction but am opposed to public funding of fracking in the form of tax allowances or price subsidies levied on customers, as happens currently with windfarms. Also, since Scotland has a wealth of alternatives for long-term energy generation, fracking must be found to be at least as safe as other energy sources.

The above was originally written for Bill’s Dunfermline Press column. This version may vary slightly.