PEOPLE in Shetland are “really worried and scared” as the cost-of-living crisis continues to escalate in the community, according to a local councillor.

Estimates suggest that the average energy costs in the Isles could rise to as much as £10,000 per year by April.

People have been warned they could need to earn at least £104,000 in order to avoid slipping into fuel poverty. 

Greens councillor for Shetland South Alex Armitage told The National he was not surprised by the news.

READ MORE: Energy bills for people on Shetland Islands could reach £10,000 per year

"We're much more vulnerable"

“We know the costs of living in Shetland are higher, obviously we have harsher weather as well including stronger gales and draft proofing homes is an order of magnitude which is more difficult than it is elsewhere," he explained.

“A lot of homes are very leaky, the cost of fuel is extortionate already and is only getting worse. I think in Shetland we’re much more vulnerable.

“I’m a children’s doctor and I’ve had patients saying this winter will ruin them. People are really worried and scared.

“We’ve got loads of potential here to generate renewable energy but sadly we’re not seeing the benefits of that.”

Armitage said that “a huge amount of spending” is needed to “mitigate the suffering” that people are going through. 

However, Liz Truss’s camp has said that her plans to help support people will not be announced until she has the “full support and advice” available to the government of the day. 

The National: Cllr Armitage said more needed to be done to help the people of ShetlandCllr Armitage said more needed to be done to help the people of Shetland

UK Government urged to act

Armitage added: “Help has got to come from all levels of government but the issue is that the Scottish Government has its hands tied. 

“It’s not in a position to spend the money that’s needed. It is absolutely the UK Government that needs to stand up and help people.”

The councillor’s thoughts were echoed by Scottish Green MSP Ross Greer, who said that Scotland’s fate could not be left “in the hands of an uncaring Tory government”. 

Leader of the Shetland Isles Council Emma Macdonald has written to the Chancellor demanding that action be taken. 

She said: "Our islands have been at the heart of oil and gas activity for over forty years, yet our people have not seen the benefits of that in terms of a lower cost of fuel.

"Shetland has contributed, and will continue to contribute, significantly to UK energy exports, and yet people in our communities will struggle to heat their homes in the coming year. 

"This is particularly ironic, given the continued development of offshore and onshore renewable energy production around Scotland."

The diesel and petrol problem

Earlier this month, it was revealed that three new offshore floating wind projects had been offered seabed agreements as part of Crown Estate Scotland’s ScotWind clearing process.

The ScotWind Leasing programme allows developers the rights to construct and operate offshore windfarms on areas of seabed in Scottish waters. 

All three projects are set to focus on the development of green hydrogen techonology, which it is hoped can replace all the diesel and petrol used on Shetland by 2050. 

Figures in a report titled Shetland's Household Energy Situation in Numbers showed the total winter energy cost for Shetland in 2021/22 was £18,175,912.

Across 2022/23, that figure is expected to triple to over £56 million. 

READ MORE: How does Scotland compare with England on water as beaches closed by sewage spills down south

"This will hurt everyone"

Armitage said that skyrocketing bills are going to hit the poorest hardest but that it would affect everybody. 

He continued: “This will hurt everyone. It’s a cruel way for the people of Shetland to be treated and the whole of the UK hasn’t been given any reassurances that we’re going to be okay.

“I’m fortunate, I have a doctor’s salary but the cost of my bills are eyewatering. Myself and my family are worried and I can only imagine what it’s like for people who aren’t so fortunate.”  

A survey conducted found that 96% of households could come to be spending 10% of their income on energy costs. 

Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP for Shetland Beatrice Wishart said the figures showed “the scale of the vast challenge ahead”. 

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She said: “One long-established business is saying that when they enter calculations for increasing energy costs in coming months that they turn into a ‘substantially loss-making entity’.

“You shouldn’t have to be a millionaire to stay warm this winter. Liberal Democrats have set out plans to block the energy price rise before it happens but we cannot wait weeks for a new Conservative Prime Minister to act. 

“The Government must step in now to help families and pensioners in the Isles and beyond by cancelling the planned rise in energy bills.”

Wishart’s comments come as the SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford calls on the UK Government to match the support being provided in Scotland to help people with the cost of living.