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MP/MSP press OFT on heating oil

SHETLAND’S MP and MSP have demanded an urgent meeting with the Office of Fair Trading after it refused to intervene in the domestic heating oil market.

Alistair Carmichael and Tavish Scott are angry after the consumer watchdog claimed that there was no need for price regulation because the heating oil market remains competitive, though it accepted some suppliers might be abusing their position.

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While the OFT insists 97 per cent of the UK has a choice of four or more suppliers, Shetland and Orkney rely on a single supplier of fuel to heat homes.

Fuel suppliers have warned that prices are likely to rise further this winter, and the government is coming under pressure to regulate the market.

Mr Carmichael said: “In their report the OFT made much of the range of suppliers available in many areas of the country, but the simple fact is that people in the northern isles have little or no choice when it comes to deciding where to buy their heating oil.

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“People in Orkney and Shetland are forced to buy from one source and given the high prices we have seen in recent years I think there is a real case for the OFT to look again at our local market.

“I will be seeking an urgent meeting with the OFT to discuss this issue.” Mr Scott added: “This report reinforces the cast iron case for a full OFT investigation into the cost that islanders are paying.

“There is no market in Shetland and we are being hammered by a monopoly distributor. It’s time for action to help households who pay a higher percentage of their income on heating their home than anywhere else in the UK.”

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