Consumer Scotland to become statutory advocate for heat network consumers

Future role will improve protections for consumers as part of wider regulation of the sector.

Consumer Scotland has been designated as the statutory advocate for heat network consumers in Scotland.

The new role, which will come into force in 2025, is set out in a consultation from energy regulator Ofgem and the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero seeking views on the future regulation of the sector.

The introduction of regulation is intended to ensure all heat network consumers are given a comparable level of protection to customers of gas and electricity in the regulated energy sector.

Heat networks supply heat from a central source to consumers and can cover large areas such as towns or cities or can be local, supplying smaller groups of buildings such as housing estates.

Importantly, this avoids the need for individual boilers or electric heaters in every building helping the reduce emissions and achieve net zero targets.

At present, around 1.5% of Scotland’s heat is supplied from heat networks, but the Scottish Government has set an ambitious target to increase this to 8% by 2030 - the equivalent of around 650,000 additional homes.

As part of its new responsibilities, Consumer Scotland will carry out research into the issues and experiences heat network users face, using this evidence to advocate for improvements on behalf of consumers.

It will also formally represent consumers on industry and advisory groups, ensuring the consumer voice is heard at all stages of decision making.

Consumer Scotland's Energy Policy and Advocacy Manager Alistair Hill said:

“We look forward to taking on this important new role to ensure better outcomes for both current and future heat network users in Scotland.

“As part of our work we will work collaboratively with government, Ofgem, advice bodies and the industry to advance the interests of consumers in this market.

“When the new regime goes live, Consumer Scotland will also develop specific strands of work to ensure heat network consumers in vulnerable circumstances are treated fairly.”

Consumer Scotland will work closely with Citizens Advice, who will take on a similar advocacy role in England and Wales.


Heat networks regulation – consumer protection consultation

Consumer Scotland is the statutory body for consumers in Scotland. It was established by the Consumer Scotland Act 2020 as a Non-Ministerial Office and is accountable to the Scottish Parliament. Consumer Scotland’s purpose is to improve outcomes for current and future consumers.