31/08/2011

Coal Price Rise Condemned

The cost of buying coal across Northern Ireland is set to rise by four to 10% next month.

Although only around 5% of homes in Northern Ireland use coal as the sole means of heating, an increasing number use it to supplement central heating systems.

Commenting, the Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson has expressed deep concern at reports that coal prices here are set to rise, saying that it could increase problems regarding fuel poverty.

He said fuel poverty can be a matter of life and death and it is crucial that the energy affordability issue is addressed.

Mr Dickson said: "I am extremely concerned at these reports. We are experiencing what appears to be a very troubling trend as regards some heating and energy prices.

"Last week, a significant price rise was announced by Power NI and now we hear about possible rises in coal prices.

"This is a very worrying time for households as many people are struggling to pay bills.
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"The challenge is to make energy more affordable and it is crucial that government looks at new ways of addressing the energy issue.

"A key part of this is the further promotion of the use of renewable energy, home insulation schemes and community purchase schemes.

"Only around 5% of homes here use coal as their only source of heating but they may be some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

"In addition many people use coal as well as their oil fired heating system and a move like this could have a massive impact on households in our society with low incomes," he said.

"We are moving ever closer to winter and if it anywhere near as cold as the last one, this could pose many problems for households," the MLA continued.

"Fuel poverty really is a matter of life and death and this challenge must be met head on by Government."

Also slamming the news, the Consumer Council has already said it was a further blow to homeowners already struggling with high fuel prices.

(BMcC/GK)

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