IF the Scottish Government was planning to burn down its support base in rural Scotland, it could not have executed it better over the last few years.

Setting Twitter/X ablaze last week were the updated building regulations which kicked in at the beginning of April. Lighting the fuse was the banning of wood-burning stoves in new builds and conversions.

The word of the week is “­mainsplaining”.

I wish I could take credit – but I can’t. The credit goes to @Minnie_Mo_.

The definition is when ­mainlanders try to explain island ­issues to islanders. And that’s exactly what ­unfolded as Woodburnergate took hold and Twitter/X commentators pivoted from expertise on whatever the last flash point was, to ­expertise on wood-burning stoves and the realities of rural and island life.

Keyboard warriors and armchair experts aside, an interesting exercise is watching seasoned SNP members and commentators write off concerns of rural Scotland with the “overreacting”, “not-listening” or “not-reading” line. These are people I ­respect on a lot of topics, but they ­appear to have their blinkers firmly attached when it comes to rural issues.

The result of those blinkers is that rural and island folks increasingly end up being painted as environment-hating ignorants with the inability to read. That couldn’t be further from the truth. We screamed ourselves hoarse trying to explain that we didn’t hate the seas over HPMAs, and we’re now having to explain in very small words that we don’t hate the ozone layer either – but we have concerns about ­policy implementation.

READ MORE: Scotland's wood-burning ban is unnecessary for our rural communities

No one is disagreeing that we need fewer emissions if we are not all going to burn to a crisp in the next 50 years. But because we live in locations where power cuts can easily last days and it blows 70mph in the winter, we have some thoughts about stoves.

Twenty years ago, we were building houses to the accepted standard of the day. In Tiree, a group of those have just been retrofitted with new insulation and replacement solar panels because the build quality was not all it was cracked up to be. They were built without stoves or chimneys – meaning when the building standards failed, there was no backup.

Over on Twitter/X, a 6kw heat pump is fine but a 6kw stove is overkill. Biomass is okay, but stoves are not. Exemptions are ­permitted if the council issuing the building warrant agrees …

Solid fuel as a secondary emergency heating source is ­allowed if it’s biomass but not a stove. Or is it the other way around? I’m happy to tell you that I have no idea. My ego can cope with not knowing it all.

The National:

What I do know is that islands like ­Tiree are not on the gas grid. So, when the power fails, we don’t have a backup we can ignite. In the winter we can’t just pop to Tesco for a cheap coffee and a quick heat. The cafés are closed (see: Other H&I Crises vol. 3), and heat pumps don’t always seem to cope with high-speed salt.

Of course, our well-documented ­housing crisis means that we have little choice right now but to build. To build new houses without stoves. Maybe we’ll get an exemption, but that’s going to ­depend on the mood of the department ­issuing building warrants – which frankly doesn’t inspire confidence.

And that’s before we do the maths on woodland crofts or particulate presence in our communities – genuine experts on which suggest that a little latitude might actually get you closer to the ­net-zero goals.

I am not an expert in construction or net-zero and don’t pretend to be. If the forestry industry is uncertain and is broadly unaware of these changes, then I – pushing pixels around a screen as I do – am unlikely to make a decent fist of the detail. I’ll confess to losing track ­midway through a detailed explanation of ­off-setting.

READ MORE: What's to blame for sky-high rents during the Edinburgh Festival?

What I am keeping track of though – as many voters are – is the abject failure of the Scottish Government to actually ­listen to rural areas, to foresee areas where one size might not fit all – and most of all – to communicate effectively.

There is a reason that rural and island Twitter/X lost its collective mind over wood burners last week. It’s because they have been burnt so often over the last few years that they do not trust Holyrood to create effective policy.

So sceptical of the urban Greens are we that we assume the next policy ­coming down the chimney is a complete ban on wood burners. It would surprise none of us. And so, frazzled by a never-ending ­parade of urban-centric decisions, we ­react accordingly.

If any members of the Government are tucked up beside their existing stoves and reading this over coffee today – that’s why these backlashes are happening with such regularity.

You have irrevocably broken the trust between Holyrood and rural Scotland. Finding someone who thinks you are making policy that affects rural areas by centring rural concerns and giving a fig about them is harder than finding a heat pump engineer north of Perth.

A perfect example of the disconnect is in Ariane Burgess’s column in this very paper yesterday. It starts with “Nowhere else in Scotland does the climate crisis truly crystallise itself than where I am in the Highlands and Islands.”

READ MORE: In the Highlands, we see importance of green policies before us

For the purposes of driving the point home, let me rewrite it. “Nowhere else in Scotland does the failure of the ­Government to understand the crisis in rural communities truly crystallise itself than in the Highlands and Islands.”

Whilst Ms Burgess makes a lot of ­excellent points, they are entirely lost for many of us because we can’t see past the remark that there is “obsessing over roads”.

I assume that Ms Burgess is referring to the A9. The main trunk route north which – as those of us with the misfortune to use it regularly know – is desperately needing investment.

We need cars to get to ferries. They are at ungodly hours, they are subject to change at the drop of a hat, and we need to transport things. We’re not obsessing over it for no good reason – and we’re grateful to the few politicians who are joining us in the obsessing.

If you upgrade the wretched thing so that travelling up the A9 on a bus doesn’t require two overnight stays and the desire to gnaw your own fist off, more people might use the buses …

We could take the train. If it met the boat and allowed you to transport the contents of Asda and Ikea, three small children and a dog at 4am.

Yes, we need housing and jobs. But if we are to get more people working in ­renewables in the Highlands and Islands, we need to get them and the resources to do so up the A9. And if we are to build housing, we need to move many of the constituent parts UP THE A9. Maybe Ms Burgess might also want to start ­obsessing about a road.

Obsessing about roads in places where the rest of the infrastructure is lying in bits is necessary in a way that ­obsessing about urban roads might not be. ­Obsessing over the impact of building regulations and stoves in rural areas is necessary in a way that it might not be in Edinburgh.

Rural and island Scotland has been putting up smoke signals for a long time about the damage caused by creating ­urban-centric policy and retrofitting it for rural areas.

We can only conclude that the urban smog in Edinburgh is ­obscuring them.