Alistair Carmichael, MP for Orkney and Shetland, has responded to the proposed smart meter bill which was announced in the Queen’s Speech this week. He is concerned that a change in policy may allow the Government to ignore the islands’ future energy needs. In 2009 the UK Government promised to ensure that smart meters would be installed in every household in the UK. Yesterday that was quietly changed to a commitment of merely ‘offering’ the product to all households.
Commenting, Alistair Carmichael said:
“I am pleased to see that a Smart Meter Bill made it into a Queen’s speech that was otherwise empty of much of the Conservatives’ manifesto promises. It is however, disappointing that the Government’s target of 100% smart meter rollout by 2020 has been watered down.
“Smart meters will now only be “offered” to every household, which makes it easier for the rollout to focus mainly on large conurbations and urban communities where it is cheaper to install them, and easier to deliver the necessary connectivity. This means that yet again Orkney and Shetland, as well as other rural and island communities across Scotland, risk being left behind.
“Fuel poverty disproportionally affects communities such as the Northern Isles already. Our communities are among those who could benefit most from smart meters.
“I have argued previously that the 2020 deadline was arbitrary and overly optimistic, and that this would lead to unexpected consequences. I warned last year that the scale of the task ahead in achieving the target in the short time frame was unmanageable. I call on the government to reconsider the timeframe of the policy, rather than dismantling its principles.
“It seems as though this has now dawned on the Government and they have had to begin diluting their promises in order to save face”.