A DECISION to grant a five pence a litre fuel discount to remote islands in Scotland and the Isles of Scilly has “opened the door” for a similar scheme in rural North Yorkshire, according to a local MP.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander announced the reprieve yesterday, which will see pump prices lowered in the inner and outer Hebrides, Northern Isles, islands in the Clyde and the Cornwall archipelago from March next year.
And Thirsk and Malton MP Anne McIntosh believes a future round of fuel savings could ease the burden on motorists in remote parts of North Yorkshire, where monthly fuel bills are among the nation’s highest.
“I’ve said all along that if it’s good enough for Scotland, it’s good enough for Yorkshire,” she said.
“Our case is stronger for today’s decision and I’m going to revive my campaign and keep pushing. I’ve written to the Chancellor in light of the Autumn Statement next week saying that, going forward, we would hope that something similar could be done in Yorkshire in a specific area with a certain timeframe.”
Ms McIntosh said the path towards a similar reduction for North Yorkshire was clearer after the European Union Energy Tax Directive was partially lifted to allow the discount.
“Yorkshire could benefit and I hope the door is now open,” she said.
She added that, for example, parts of Ryedale and Hambleton could see fuel prices reduced for a set period of time to ease financial pressures on families and businesses.
A study by the Countryside Alliance, released last week, showed that rural workers were facing commuting costs 25 per cent higher than those in urban areas. The average monthly fuel cost in a rural local authority area was now £67, compared with an average of £50 in urban areas.
However, several local authorities in Yorkshire were considerably above the national average, with Selby, Hambleton, Richmond, East Riding, Craven, Ryedale and Harrogate all higher. The monthly fuel cost in Selby stood at £80.15.
Unveiling the scheme, Alexander said: “This is terrific news for island communities, which have long suffered the effects of high fuel costs. From March 1 next year, islanders will see a 5p cut in the pump price of petrol and diesel.
“As well as securing EU clearance, we have produced a scheme designed to protect the cash flow of local retailers.
“We have also delivered on a promise to help address the persistent unfairness of some of the lowest income communities in the country paying among the highest pump prices.
“After two years of people saying this could not be done, the Government has delivered it in less than two.
“This is another example of our determination to govern for the benefit of the whole United Kingdom.”
Fuel retailers on the islands will receive a 5p rebate on the petrol and diesel they purchase, and will be expected to pass the saving on to the consumer.
Scottish politicians welcomed the news, but said remote areas of the mainland should be helped as well.
Highland and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant said: “While this long-awaited announcement is welcome news for island communities, it does nothing to help those living in remote rural mainland areas where fuel prices are just as high.
“While the 5p discount is better than nothing, in the time it has taken the Tory-led Government to make this announcement, the price of a litre of unleaded petrol in Scotland has increased by over 15p, while diesel has soared by over 20p.
“Labour will continue to press the Tory-led Government to reverse its VAT rise on fuel – a move that will help those in all rural areas and communities the length and breadth of the country who are struggling to keep up with the soaring prices at the pump.”