THE SNP Government is planning to ban the use of wood-burning stoves. This is the latest policy from a Scottish Government that simply doesn’t understand rural Scotland.

For many people across rural Scotland these stoves are not a luxury, they are essential.

There are over 150,000 homes that still rely on wood-burning stoves for heat. East Lothian, like much of Scotland, has many isolated houses for which, when there is a power cut, oil tanks run out or extreme weather takes hold, there is no option but to turn to wood as a fuel source.

The Scottish Government ban on new wood burners, effective from April this year, is disastrous for rural Scotland. I oppose this overbearing, unnecessary ruling completely.

A consultation is now taking place to ban wood-burning stoves in existing properties, which, if implemented, would simply devastate some local communities.

The Scottish stove industry is worth approximately £60 million annually and employs many people. In East Lothian, there are several companies that specialise in fitting and maintaining stoves and I fear that this legislation will be very damaging for them.

The Greens were the driving force in pushing this unpopular law through the Parliament. With the Bute House Agreement coming to an end, I am hopeful that the Scottish Government will listen to rural residents and revoke this harmful ban.

The Scottish Conservatives have a debate secured for May 29; my party will push hard for rural communities across Scotland.

The SNP Government are out of touch with rural Scotland. The country is more than just the big cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow; rural communities are just as important. Implementing policies that make it harder for people living rurally is detrimental to East Lothian residents and, frankly, the entire country.