Case For Heating Oil Regulation ‘Compelling’, Says UKIP

Photograph of Brian Higginson and Nigel Farage
The UK Independence Party Has Reaffirmed Its Support To Extend Regulatory Oversight To The Oil Heating Industry

Following yesterday’s story which highlighted the plight of one Co. Armagh family left in the cold by Ian Martin Fuels, Brian Higginson the UK Independence Party’s (UKIP) Representative for the Lagan Valley area, has reaffirmed the party’s commitment to extending regulatory oversight to include the heating oil industry.

At present, whilst mains gas, electricity and water suppliers are subject to regulatory oversight by the Utility Regulator for Northern Ireland, heating oil distributors are exempt.

Speaking to OilFiredUp Rural Energy News, Mr. Higginson said, “Northern Ireland has the highest dependency upon heating oil in the UK. Almost two-thirds of households in Northern Ireland are dependent upon oil for domestic heating, compared with a national average of less than 10%. Furthermore, heating oil dependency is greatest in rural areas beyond the gas grid. These homes tend to have higher levels of fuel poverty and are typically less well insulated than comparable houses in urban areas.

“Unlike mains gas and electricity users, heating oil users locally do not benefit from regulatory protection. It would be unthinkable a mains gas or electricity customer would be left in the lurch by their supplier. In fact, it simply wouldn’t be allowed to happen.

“Yet here we have a responsible family, who scrimped and saved to buy heating oil. When it was not delivered, their supplier simply ignored their plight and held on to their money. They were then forced to sell some of their children’s Christmas presents, just to stay warm. That’s wrong; so very, very wrong.

“Last year in our Northern Ireland Policy Document, we proposed that heating oil users should enjoy the same levels of regulatory protection as mains gas and electricity users. We believe the case for such protection is now compelling.

“Make no mistake, the vast majority of fuel distributors across Northern Ireland and indeed, right across the UK are honourable, honest and hard working people. However, instances such as the plight of this local family, once again highlight the importance of ensuring adequate regulatory protection for all consumers – irrespective of how they heat their home. The continued absence of effective regulation, illustrates the impotency of an out-of-touch political class, who get their knickers in a twist over all sorts of airy-fairy nonsense, yet continually fail to deliver on those everyday issues which matter most to people.”

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