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Highland, Orkney, Shetland and Eilean Siar councils issue warning over rogue traders offering home energy products in the region; Trading Standards plea follows reports of incidents in the north

By Philip Murray

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Highland Council's headquarters in Glenurquhart Road, Inverness.
Highland Council's headquarters in Glenurquhart Road, Inverness.

ROGUE traders are targetting homes in the Highlands, sparking warnings from council officials for the public to beware.

Highland and Islands Trading Standards has urged householders to "be on guard" and reject any cold calling traders on the doorstep offering to install home energy products.

This follows recent reports that there may be traders operating in the area, offering free insulation works, under government funded schemes, to properties without the formal approval required to do the works.

Trading Standards teams within Highland Council, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Orkney Islands Council and Shetland Islands Council have all received such reports.

And they stressed that official home energy operators acting on the councils' behalf never door knock offering work.

"This is a complex market and there are many home energy grants available to householders to have products such as roof or wall insulation, boilers or solar systems installed for free, some even offering future payments to the recipient," said Mark McGinty, Trading Standards Team Leader at Highland Council.

"This has led to an increased volume of complaints over the last few years from householders who feel they have been misled on their doorstep when they realise what they have got is not necessarily what they thought they were getting. Also, it is an offence for any trader to claim to operate under such a scheme without the appropriate approval or authority.

"Alongside my colleagues in the other councils, we are investigating the reports we have received and will take appropriate action should any offences be detected.”

He added: “I’d urge any householder to check first the validity of any scheme, product, installer and payment before entering into a contract, whether it is free or not.

"We are aware of rogue traders operating and with that come the now usual practices of misleading the householder into agreeing for works and poor workmanship, the latter can leave the householder having to foot the bill to repair any damage caused.”

The councils involved are currently working with installers to deliver energy efficiency improvements to properties, such as cavity and external wall insulation. If you are approached by an installer who claims to be working with a council, confirm the validity of their offering by contacting Home Energy Scotland.

The council scheme operators adopt the "no cold calling policy" and initial communication will be by letter not a knock on the door.

Further information on schemes to provide free home energy improvements can be found by contacting Home Energy Scotland for free on 0808 808 2282 callers will be given free and impartial advice.

Householders can also receive free and confidential advice if they feel that they have become a victim of an energy scam by contacting Consumeradvice.scot on 0808 164 6000 or alternatively by email at advice@consumeradvice.scot. There is also a webchat facility at www.consumeradvice.scot or via social media at Facebook m.me/advice.scot.2

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