Countryside duty

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THE reason why the Scottish Highlands and Islands was chosen to be the beneficiary of a fuel discount scheme was to ease the opposition that confronted one of its local MPs, Treasury chief secretary Danny Alexander, when the scale of the coalition’s cuts first emerged in the autumn of last year.

Yet, while the Government has worked hard to persuade the EU to agree to the 5p a litre discount, it can be argued that the hardship caused by rising fuel prices is just as serious in North Yorkshire’s outposts.

And while Chancellor George Osborne’s decision to scrap next month’s planned increase in fuel duty is welcome, concerns still persist about future increases – and how these undermine those rural businesses that encounter higher costs than their urban rivals.

As well as remembering to honour his pre-election promise to make fuel prices more transparent, the Chancellor should take bold decisions to stimulate Yorkshire’s countryside.

Take the money accrued by the rural economy out of the Exchequer – and Mr Osborne would face an even greater challenge in cutting the dreaded deficit.