A pensioner says has been forced to live miles apart from his ailing wife because their faulty heating made it too difficult for her to stay.

Former soldier Donnie McNeil has been fighting for two years to get Highland Council to fix the system, installed in 2015, but it has proved fruitless so far.

His wife Brenda moved out of the marital home in Rogart, Sutherland, to a property in nearby Dornoch because she could no longer live in the damp and cold.

Donnie, 67, does a round trip of 24 miles as often as he possibly can to care for his wife, who has severe rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia.

His council home was one of several hundred in the north to have replacement systems fitted as part of a Scottish Government funded heating and insulation upgrade.

He believes there is a fault with the new equipment and that his key meter has been set at too high a rate.

Despite several calls to the council and SSE, he claims he has not received an adequate response.

Donnie was reduced to tears as he explained that his frustration with the lack of progress made in two years.

He said: "I just need to get it all sorted out. It's wasted two years of my life, and my wife cannot live here anymore.

"I want someone to come here and see what I have got. It's costing me so much money and I am fed up with the lack of response.

"Other folk here are going through this and they probably don't know what to do or who to contact."

"This has been going on for two years and nothing has been done.

"The bills have doubled compared to what we were paying before.

"Up to £50 a week is a lot of money. He cannot afford that and doesn't get much from his pension, and doesn't get carer allowance. But we love each other and that's it."

Donnie spoke about his kitchen heater not working properly for months, forcing him to use three extra oscillating heaters to stay warm.

Mr McNeil, who once served in the Royal Artillery and the Seaforth Highlanders and the Queen's Own Highlanders, said the problems started in December 2015.

The couple's bills had rocketed after six assorted heaters were installed to replace the storage heaters that they previously relied on.

They said they paid £130 between December 3 and 15 that year.

Former East Edderton and Sutherland councillor Graham Phillips, a local councillor until May 2016, said Mr McNeil's case is one of three which he is aware of in the Rogart area.

He said: "I am really concerned about the council's duty of care to the tenant, which has not been fulfilled.

"The council has responsibility to make sure the tenant is not disadvantaged. These tenants are in the exact same position they were in two years ago. Someone in the council has to own it and stay on the case until it's fixed."

A Highland Council spokeswoman said: "The council is aware of the concerns raised by Mr McNeil and these issues are being investigated by the council with a view to resolving them as soon as possible."