“We can make sure the Government listen to rural areas” was Dr Neil Hudson’s closing remark during a debate in the House of Commons on Heating Rural Homes.
The MP for Penrith and The Border stood up in Parliament to push for more flexibility in Government schemes so that rural areas, such as his, can reap the same benefits as urban areas – rightly striving for net zero but with considerations for the disproportionate usage of fossil fuel cars and heating oil among rural communities.
Following significant numbers of constituents writing to Dr Hudson about local mismanagement, the rural MP specifically mentioned the Sustainable Warmth schemes. Designed to provide affordable heating to vulnerable people while driving the UK towards net zero, a range of building works were offered such as insulation and green heating measures.
Yet due to Penrith and The Border’s rural nature much of the older housing stock did not fit the criteria for green energy installation. Dr Hudson reinforced that this simply is not good enough for rural communities.
Speaking afterwards, Dr Neil Hudson, said:
“Many folk in rural areas are off grid and use on heating oil or LPG for their homes. It is crucially important that decision-makers move past the Whitehall-centric one-size-fits-all view of governance and embrace the full array of diverse communities up and down the country. To use my veterinary vernacular – we need to have ‘horses for courses’.
“Rural Britain must be prioritised if local people are to reap the benefits of levelling up and I will continue voicing that message to Government for my constituents.”
Representing England’s largest constituency, Dr Hudson is a strong believer that for Levelling Up to work, it must include rural communities. As such, he has:
- Prioritised support for those who heat their home from the gas grid
- Been a strong voice for rural communities
- Made sure rural motorists are supported by Government
The full exchange in the Chamber
Dr Neil Hudson, MP for Penrith and The Border, said:
“I congratulate my hon. Friend on securing this important debate and on highlighting how different rural areas are from urban areas. As he mentioned, so many households —up to 76%—are off grid and on things like heating oil.
“Does he agree that decisions made in urban Whitehall need to understand that rural areas are different? Some well-intentioned schemes, such as the Sustainable Warmth scheme, have not worked well in practice. There needs to be flexibility in these policies so that, when we talk about phasing out heating oil or, indeed, phasing out petrol and diesel vehicles—things that are so vital to rural areas—we can make sure the Government listen to rural areas.”
Sir Bill Wiggin, MP for North Herefordshire who secured the debate, replied:
“My hon. Friend is a rural champion, like myself. With his background in animal welfare, he feels the beat of the countryside in his veins. He is absolutely right about having that rural priority for vital things such as climate change, where we all want the right things. We all want to do the best we can for our constituents, but what works in inner London is so different from that which would affect his constituents, those in Brecon and Radnorshire, or the wonderful people of North Herefordshire.”