The Speird Project

Start Date October 2015
Completion Date November 2016
Grant Holders: Glasgow Caledonian University
Main Contact Dr Keith Baker, School of Engineering and the Built Environment, Glasgow Caledonian University


The Scottish Government’s statistics now show that rural households spend more on energy to heat their homes than urban equivalents. However, research conducted by the project team using data from households in Renfrewshire has found this ‘energy spend gap’ is more significant than those statistics suggest, whilst other research has shown that influences on the energy spend of rural households are also highly multi-facted. The Speird Project validates and significantly expands on these findings across five areas of Scotland. The findings provide new evidence on the extent and segmentation of fuel poverty in Scotland – uncovering the ‘hidden geographies’ of fuel poverty across rural areas and the islands.

The full report and summary of this research can be accessed below:



Masters of Research dissertation: Fuel poverty and the re-emergence of wood as a sustainable source of energy in Fife, Scotland and beyond

Grant Holders: University of St Andrews
Main Contact Ivan Delev, Masters student, University of St Andrews


Masters dissertation

In 2009, an estimated 4.5 million households in the UK were classified as being fuel poor, an increase from around 3.75 million the previous year. Many of those categorised as being fuel poor are mainly rural households who in the recent past, have increasingly found it difficult to procure affordable energy for domestic consumption. This study, using a combination of both qualitative and quantitative research methods, will attempt to explore people’s perceptions of fuel poverty and wood bio-fuel, as well as evaluate policy initiatives aimed at promoting wood fuel as an alternative solution to fuel poverty in rural Fife. It is envisaged that the findings will contribute to energy policy formulation both in Scotland and the UK as a whole.

Masters student: Ivan Delev
Supervised by Dr Danny Simatele, Department of Geography and Sustainable Development, University of St Andrews


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How much? The Cost of Alleviating Fuel Poverty

Start Date July 2006
Completion Date January 2007
Grant Holders: Centre for Sustainable Energy/Association for the Conservation of Energy/Richard Moore
Main Contact Ian Preston, CSE


The project aims to answer two questions that are consistently asked by policy makers. How much would it cost to deliver affordable warmth to all fuel poor households, and how much would it cost to raise all properties to a minimum standard of energy efficiency that protects residents from fuel poverty?
This project aims to quantify the measures required to do this for different household types, the cost of these measures and the associated economic benefit to the country. Once the work and investment required have been quantified, national grant schemes, policies, and local action can be better targeted to need. This, against the background of rising fuel prices, has taken on extra significance in light of the current review of measures available through Warm Front, and the forthcoming consultation on EEC-3.

Full report and research summary

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Quantifying and classifying rural fuel poverty

Start Date July 2003
Completion Date Summer 2006
Grant Holders: Centre for Sustainable Energy
Main Contact William Baker, Senior Researcher, CSE


To quantify and report on the extent and characteristics of rural fuel poverty in England, make comparisons with urban fuel poverty and rural deprivation and make recommendations appropriate to both rural policy and anti-fuel poverty policy.

The main objectives of the research are to answer the following questions:

  • What is the overall extent of rural fuel poverty as opposed to urban fuel poverty within England?
  • Which rural wards have the highest instances of fuel poverty and why?
  • What is the relationship between housing characteristics, access to gas and other indicators of rural fuel poverty?
  • Is it possible to produce a simple classification of rural wards according to their fuel poverty characteristics?
  • Is Warm Front reaching the ‘rural fuel poor’?


Final report

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Rural fuel poverty: defining a research agenda

Start Date 2002
Completion Date 2002
Grant Holders: Centre for Sustainable Energy
Main Contact


Summary: eaga-CT wants to initiate a new programme of research into ‘rural fuel poverty’. The Trust provided funding to the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) to prepare this position report to inform the development of the programme. The report addresses the themes of fuel poverty, rural poverty and social exclusion and the adequacy of current anti-fuel poverty programmes for addressing the problem.
The report builds upon a major conference, jointly organised by the eaga-CT and CSE, on rural fuel poverty. The conference was held in 2001 in central London. It also draws upon the results of a consultation exercise, carried out by CSE, to gather the views of conference participants and other interested parties on priorities for research.

Rural Fuel Poverty: A Project in South West Wiltshire to Study Rural Fuel Poverty and Develop Practical Solutions

Start Date 1998
Grant Holders: Energy for Sustainable Development
Main Contact


This study aims to provide information on domestic energy use and energy efficiency among low-income households in an area of South West Wiltshire designated a Rural Development Area (RDA). The study addresses the ‘fuel poverty’ problem that affects those on low incomes living in energy inefficient homes. Although focused on one area of the country, the study is intended to provide insights, which can be applied more generally, particularly in rural England. In addition to providing information on the present position and highlighting problem areas, the study suggests action for alleviating fuel poverty.