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Council to invest £2.4m in 150 properties

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
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Council to invest £2.4m in 150 properties

HOUSEHOLDERS paying sky high energy bills could be rescued, thanks to a scheme that will invest £2.4m in tackling fuel poverty in Eastriggs, Thornhill and Lochside.

Dumfries and Galloway Council has recently been allocated £2,364,468 from the Scottish Government’s Energy Efficient Scotland area-based scheme, which combats fuel poverty through upgrading people’s homes.

Council housing chiefs have now drawn up initial plans for the funding to be invested in 150 properties.

The areas targeted by the council – and considered in most need – are Thornhill, Eastriggs, and Lochside.

It is being proposed that external wall insulation is installed at a mix of flats, terraced houses, semi-detached and detached homes in these three areas.

Residents can benefit from grants starting at £9000 for flats and up to £18,500 for larger detached homes. There are also additional grant uplifts of between £1000 and £3100 for rural properties in the government-funded scheme.

However, this energy efficiency project isn’t a freebie.

Council papers, due to be tabled at next week’s economy and resources committee, state: “While every effort is made to reduce the requirement for customer contributions, it is anticipated that a sum of around £2000 will be required in the majority of cases.

“Loans are available from Home Energy Scotland to help meet the cost of household contributions. Those living in extreme fuel poverty are also eligible for additional grant assistance.”

This is an extension of the energy efficiency area-based scheme, which has been running for 11 years.

In that time, there have been more than 2419 energy efficiency measures installed across Dumfries and Galloway, with a total spend of £23.6m. These measures will save over 91,121t of carbon in their lifetime and result in fuel bill savings in excess of £26.7m at current prices.

The council report continues: “The ongoing programmes will further improve these outcomes, while also providing wider health, climate change and regeneration objectives.”

If approved by councillors next week, the council will reach out to 132 addresses in Thornhill, 164 householders in Eastriggs, and 190 in Lochside to see who would like to sign up for the heavily-discounted energy efficiency works.

The initial plans are for external wall insulation to be installed at 20 private homes in Thornhill, 30 in Eastriggs, and 100 in Lochside.

For Lochside, it is noted that “several streets within this area fall into the lowest Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SMID) and fuel poverty category.”

If there is a high level of sign-ups, the addresses can be carried over into a future phase of the same energy efficiency programme.

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