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SNPThe Scottish National Party (SNP) has welcomed an announcement from the government that off-grid home fuel oil and LPG boilers are to be included in the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme.

SNP Westminster energy spokesman Mike Weir MP offered a cautious welcome to the news those off the gas grid are to be treated equally with those who are connected to the gas mains.

Mr Weir has been a strong campaigner on this issue for a number of years and the SNP representative has questioned all of the Big Six energy companies over their ECO schemes.

It was discovered that not one of them included replacement of boilers for those off the gas grid and Mr Weir again raised the question at Energy and Climate Change questions.

He said: "Those who are not connected to mains gas are too often left out of consideration when governments are looking at issues of fuel poverty and energy efficiency. Many of such homes are often of older construction and harder to heat than more modern homes."

Mr Weir added that many thousands of consumers throughout Scotland are not connected to the mains gas grid and never will be. He added: "Ministers have previously claimed that the schemes were technology neutral, which is clearly not the case if technologies used in rural areas are excluded. I have repeatedly pressed ministers on this matter and I am pleased that, finally, they seem to be getting the message and looking at this issue."

Energy and climate change secretary Greg Barker stated that the government takes the issue "very seriously". He said: "We are meeting suppliers again next month, and I can assure [Mr Weir] that there will be progress. That has eluded governments in the past, but we are determined to make progress."

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