Oil firms ‘ignoring’ fuel poverty issues claims MLA

THE organisation which represents oil distributors in Northern Ireland has been accused of being ‘flippant’ and ‘burying their heads in the sand’ over home heating costs.

Robin Swann, the Ulster Unionist Party Assembly member for North Antrim said the response by the Northern Ireland Oil Federation to the recent report by the Consumer Council on a 60% increase in home heating oil prices in three years amounted to the Federation adopting an Ostrich style attitude.

Assemblyman Swann said: “I welcome the publication of this latest report from the Consumer Council and fully support its call for the introduction of regulation into the home heating oil market.

“But the flippant response from the Northern Ireland Oil Federation is predictable, has completely missed the point and amounts to the Federation burying its head in the sand regarding the scale of the problem facing many households.

“The two-thirds of homes in this area which use home heating oil deserve transparency on what they are spending their money on and at present they do not have that.

“We know that oil distribution companies are struggling to survive as their own operating and transportation costs continue to soar.

“While the delivery companies could change their operations to reduce the price that consumers pay, the main problem stems from the multi-national companies.

“Consumers have a right to see how much of a cut these multi-national companies bringing the oil into the Northern Ireland market take before they sell it onto the smaller distributors.

“Only the introduction of regulation ensuring price transparency, greater health and safety protection as well as measures to improve the efficiency of oil boilers can help drive down the cost of energy for households and inject some much-needed confidence into the sector.

“Given the recent snow, we need to be aware that fuel poverty is becoming critical,” said Mr. Swann.#