“Insufferable” zealots among the SNP and Scottish Greens are failing to get the public onside as Scotland moves towards net zero carbon emissions, a former MP has said.  

In a strongly-worded attack on the two parties at the heart of the Scottish Government, former Scottish Labour politician Brian Wilson said that Scots were being left in the cold by policies and politicians who treat them as “reluctant laggards”. 

Writing in The Herald in the wake of a row over a ban on wood-fired stoves in new-build properties, Mr Wilson said that people needed to be persuaded to support environmentally friendly measures, not “dragooned into line by legislation and regulation in order to meet the aspirations of their moral superiors.” 

The Scottish Government has ruled out installing wood-fired burners along with fossil-fuel boilers in all new-build properties granted a building warrant after April this year.  

This has angered many in rural communities who say that the bio-fuel burners are needed as a back-up in the face of semi-regular power cuts during winter storms.  

Mr Wilson also warned of the impact on the rural economy as jobs supplying fuel to burners disappear 

READ MORE: This woodburning stove ban is an assault on the rural poor

He said: “Those who come after us will endure power cuts without the glow of peat or wood to bring relief. Hopefully they will still be allowed to huddle round their candles. Mr Harvie’s back-pedal that wood-burning will be permitted “in emergencies” compounds the farce. 

“Incidentally, though it will be a double whammy in Mr Harvie’s book, his edict will effectively kill off peat-cutting in the Highlands and Islands, the sole purpose of which is for domestic fuel.  

“That is a cash-free transaction which rewards hard toil with the means of heating homes. Sad to see that honourable culture wiped out with a stroke of green ink.” 

The Herald: A wood-burning stove A wood-burning stove (Image: PA)

The former politician, who has both a heat pump and a wood-burner to heat his home, said that the ban on wood-burning stoves in new builds would have been supported if it had been better explained and clear exemptions for off-grid homes, rather than on a case-by-case basis.  

READ MORE: This woodburning stove ban is an assault on the rural poor

He writes:  “A general public willingness exists to do the right thing for the environment. The same applies to the complex challenge of combining good practice with affordability and practicality when it comes to heating homes. But balance is also needed. Banning fuels on which a significant part of the Scottish population depends, particularly in areas of highest fuel poverty, is a fool’s errand. 

“Thoughtful politicians should strive to encapsulate the positive public mood on environmental progress and bring public opinion along with them. Zealots are incapable of taking that approach and too much of policy-making in Scotland is currently run by zealots.”