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Thousands of island homes may be left without insurance cover from February next year because the owners and residents are unaware of new smoke and heat alarm legislation.

That's the warning today from the Alliance group of Councillors on Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

They have today requested that the Comhairle write to the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon requesting that the February 2022 deadline for installing interlinked smoke alarms be delayed for 12 months.

A spokesperson for the group said: “We feel that many homeowners in these islands are at present unaware of and not prepared for this new legislation and we believe it is unacceptable to leave many in our community without effective insurance cover.

"We also suggest that the Comhairle supports the representations that other local authorities are making to the  Scottish Government in asking them to provide the appropriate financial assistance for people and families on low incomes to assist with the cost of the required installation of these new systems.”

The Alliance Group is a formal group of elected members on CnES – made up of councillors Grant Fulton, Calum Maclean, John Norman MacLeod and Ranald Fraser.

The new installations do away with DIY separate alarms - the alarms are all mains-powered (or secure long-life battery) and linked (they can be wireless) so they go off together; they have to be located at different points throughout the dwelling; and be a mixture of heat, CO2 and smoke alarms.

Thousands of people have read our report on this since it was posted last week -

Back in December 2020, the Scottish Parliament agreed a year's delay in the implantation of the new life-saving rules.

Then the Scottish Government had sought Parliamentary approval for a 12-month delay to legislation which requires all homes in Scotland to have interlinked smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, following criticism of the timing of implementation due to the impact of coronavirus.

The new standard, which currently applied to private rented property and new-builds, would have been extended to all homes in Scotland in February 2021.

Following the committee’s decision, housing minister Kevin Stewart said: “I welcome the Parliament’s decision to postpone the implementation of the new standard to February 2022. This will allow more time for people to make changes to meet the standard. We will ensure people are supported with the right information and advice and will keep all of this under close review.  I will keep parliament updated of developments.

“The Scottish Government is committed to improving fire safety. We want to ensure the same level of protection is in place regardless of whether you own your home or rent from a social or private landlord.  Although the postponement will give people a further twelve months to install the required alarms, I hope that most people will recognise its safety benefits and take action much sooner.”

Age Scotland had called on the Scottish Government to delay the looming deadline amid concerns of the lack of public awareness and the short term risk of scams and rogue traders. The national charity for older people also had considerable concerns about the ability for people on low incomes to afford the measures, which were estimated to cost around £220 on average before any fitting was taken into consideration.