‘Real concerns’ over winter home heating after fuel price warning

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A JUMP in the cost of solid fuels – including wood and coal – has reignited ‘very real concerns’ about how people will heat their homes next winter.

Consumer Council chair Carl Walker said there was a ‘window of a few months’ for the Island to address growing energy costs – including those now affecting people with log-burning stoves.

His comments came after Trevor Bechelet, of Patch Coal, warned the price of solid fuels would soon rise ‘dramatically’, with a combination of factors – including the war in Ukraine, an impending ban on sales of traditional house coal in England and an increase in logistical costs – accelerating a rise in raw material and freight prices that he would have to pass on to customers.

This included his ash crate logs – currently sold at around £350 per cubic metre stacked – which he said would probably become ‘at least’ £400 when he next took stock.

‘The price of wood has gone up – even the plastic bags have gone up 40%,’ he said, estimating that there were ‘hundreds’ of Islanders currently using log-burning stoves.

‘With supply and demand and the prices of coal and other smokeless fuels, people are going to think wood is the next [best] thing,’ he added.

In March, Mr Walker wrote to Chief Minister John Le Fondré asking him to consider a raft of measures to address the rising cost of living, including a winter fuel credit of £100 per household.

Mr Walker said: ‘There is now a very real concern about how people will be able to afford to heat their homes this coming winter, especially the vulnerable.

‘We have seen all forms of energy shoot up, as well as warnings from local coal suppliers about supply chain issues and potential price rises, so it now seems all types of fuel to heat our homes have been impacted by Brexit, Covid and the invasion of Ukraine.

‘It is a very worrying time indeed and we have a window of a few months to try to address this as a community.’

Doug Richardson, managing director at Farm Fuels, also said that the cost of wood was increasing, but noted that Islanders did not need to ‘panic’.

‘People are buying in anticipation of prices rising, which they will, but it might level-off – as you get a natural resistance where stuff gets so expensive that nobody buys it,’ he said.

‘Generally speaking, you have to order ahead,’ he added.

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