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Comhairle Leader Councillor Paul Steele has characterised the proposed Scottish government on wood-burning stoves as “confused and confusing.”

Following the wave of criticism over the proposals, which would also outlaw peat burning, the Comhairle is now seeking clarification from Edinburgh.

Commented Councillor Steele: “The definitions within the amendments to the Building (Scotland) Regulations 2024 are confused and confusing. 

“Comhairle officers have been seeking clarity around the regulation, and we await that clarity from government.

"Wood burning stoves have long been considered to provide ‘low or zero carbon’ heating, so this change appears over-zealous and does not take into account island contexts.”

He continued: “This looks, once again, like an urban style policy being foisted onto island communities without proper consideration of island circumstances. The Comhairle will continue to engage with government to make the case for island-proofing and to ensure an approach that does not disadvantage islanders.”

The rules have alias come under attack from from former SNP Leadership contender Kate Forbes, the SNP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, writing in The National. "We’ve seen increasing numbers of prolonged power cuts in the last few years. In some cases, these have lasted days. I know of several householders, often older residents, who have unblocked chimneys and installed wood burners precisely because of the lack of resilience in the energy system.

"I don’t live on an island, but I can still remember the worry last year during a power cut with a newborn baby in a freezing home because of a 24-hour power cut. Thank goodness we had a stove in one part of the house.

"People don’t complain, they just find solutions. When it comes to a power cut, spiralling energy costs or any other risk to energy security, there is only one solution: put a fire on. And so they really don’t like it when government appears to want to eliminate one of the very few options they have for resilience.

"As somebody said to me in response to news of the ban on wood-burning stoves in new builds – what happens when the heat pump breaks down, you order a part and it gets stuck on the mainland because the ferry is off?

"Everybody else can stick a stove on – but you can’t because you applied for your building warrant after April 1.

"Of course, we still aren’t precisely sure whether the ban is really a ban because the wording for what constitutes an emergency is woolly. A power cut affects every home equally badly, irrespective of when the house was built.

"The well-insulated modern home may last a bit longer, but with several days of power cuts these days, even they might need to stick a fire on. You’ll be able to spot the new builds in a power cut easily – they’ll all be huddled around a big bonfire in the garden trying to stay warm.

"The Scottish Government has done so much for rural communities, but in politics you’re only remembered for the last thing you did.

"There is no level playing field – rural areas, especially in our island, coastal and more remote areas, face much greater hurdles.

"Government should be trying to lower those hurdles, not add more."