Derry ratepayers could face bill hike as Council's energy costs soar

Increases in energy and fuel costs are having significant impacts across all of society and Derry City and Strabane Council is no different with considerable increases in associated costs.

Members of the Environment and Regeneration Committee received a report which stated that ‘in year budget provision will not meet these additional costs’.

The committee heard that immediate action would be required to mitigate or reduce both consumption and costs meaning council will have to utilise its financial contingency reserve to meet the shortfall.

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The report showed that the budget for electricity and gas is £1.4m with the forecast costs based on current rates being £2.8m leaving a budget deficit of £1.4m.

Guildhall Square Christmas lights. Photos: George Sweeney. DER2150GS – 035

The budget for heating oil is £175,000 with the forecast costs based on current rates £350,000 leaving a budget deficit of £175,000. There is also a budget deficit in vehicle fuel of £560,000, making a total budget deficit of £2.135m.

The report added that if costs remain at current levels, the forecast impact on the 2023/24 rates process would equate to 2.41% rates impact.

SDLP councillor Martin Reilly said the report was a ‘significant piece of information in relation to next year’s rates process if you look at the impact it will have on the rate payer and obviously we aren’t the only council to face these types of pressures. Do the officers have any additional information in relation to how other councils are handling these additional prices of oil and energy?”

Responding, Karen Phillips, Director of Environment and Regeneration said: “We have worked very closely with other councils over the years in order to try and collectively negotiate and buy energy which helps us to get the best possible price.

Karen Phillips.

“Within the team we are doing everything we can to reduce the impact and indeed work with councils and lobby for support from central government to minimise any burden on the rate payer as we move forward into a very difficult time.”

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An internal team has been set up to look at energy and fuel use across the organisation and to identify both short, medium and long term measures, while the report states that there is a need to decarbonise Council’s assets and fleet in line with Council’s declaration of a climate emergency.

Gillian Anderson

Local Democracy Reporter

The Guildhall, Derry.