South Scotland MSP and Shadow Minister for the Environment Claudia Beamish has visited the pioneering Dormont Estate 'passive house' development near Lockerbie to learn more about its innovative use of energy conservation to create affordable rural housing.
Landlord Jamie Carruthers and Sarah-Jane Laing of Scottish Land & Estates, who organised the visit, met Ms Beamish along with David Major of White Hill Design Studio and some of the Dormont residents.
Claudia Beamish said:
"I was really impressed with the quality of these sustainable homes and, after talking to residents, was convinced that this is one of the ways forward in affordable housing which will help our transition to a low carbon economy in a fair way.
"Access to rural housing for new tenants is a particular challenge and the passive house model is one I am very supportive of as a result of today's visit. The design of the development, the welcoming layout and the way in which the houses complement the existing surroundings is evident. I would certainly live in one myself, partly due to the very low energy costs and also as the development is so attractive!"
The eight award-winning, energy-saving rural homes for rent are built to pioneering 'passive house' standards, an industry benchmark of superiod quality low energy housing well above current UK requirements, meaning they effectively heat themselves.
Sarah-Jane Laing of Scottish Land & Estates commented:
"This project is part of the Rural Homes for Rent Grant scheme which Scottish Land & Estates has worked on closely with Jamie Carruthers for many years. It works by allowing landowners to deliver quality, affordable housing in rural areas. This particular development is, we believe, the lowest energy multi-unit housing development in Scotland. We're delighted Claudia Beamish has helped highlight the need for more grants to be made available across rural Scotland to allow wonderful homes like these to continue to allow people to live affordably and sustainably in Scotland's countryside".
Tenant Louise Cannon commented:
"We were so happy to move into one of the Dormont Estate homes as my husband John nears retirement age. Having lived in the area all our working life, it was a great worry that we might have to move to a town. Now we are settled here in a cosy house with very cheap electricity and heating costs".
Jamie Carruthers, owner of Dormont Estate, was delighted to welcome Ms Beamish, the first Member of the Scottish Parliament to visit the development, and expressed the hope that many more would do so to see for themselves that passive houses really do work in Scotland.