YORKSHIRE motorists are paying the least in the country for fuel - but drivers in rural areas are still paying more than seven pence a litre more than those in cities.
Wholesale petrol prices are now back to where they were four years ago, bringing prices down in recent weeks, said the AA. But the combination of higher VAT, fluctuating exchange rates and increased margins since 2010 for retailers, suppliers, refiners and market traders have kept pump prices comparatively high - with the average petrol price 4p per litre more than in November 2010.
The average petrol price has fallen by 4.2p since mid-October, and diesel has dropped by 3.9p, the AA said. Yorkshire and the Humber is the cheapest in the country for both petrol and diesel, averaging 122.7p and 127.2p per litre.
Calling for greater fuel transparency, AA president Edmund King said “retailers dragging their feet” when passing on lower costs to the pump is “only part of the problem,” and urged an EU commission investigating oil and fuel prices to explain why the cost of petrol remains high when the oil price falls.
In the last six weeks, oil prices have fallen from 90 dollars a barrel to well below 80.
While that has been reflected in part for the average Yorkshire driver, figures from the PetrolPrice.com website show drivers in rural Yorkshire areas are remaining high.
Motorists in Richmond are paying as much as 126.9p per litre - more than seven pence a litre more than in parts of Leeds, where the price at the pump is as low as 119.7p.
CLA North Regional Director Dorothy Fairburn said: “Fuel prices are clearly moving in the right direction but there is undoubtedly scope for them to drop further, particularly in rural Yorkshire where prices still remain higher than average.
“Many properties in rural areas rely on heating oil, which is now a full 10 pence per litre cheaper on average than at the beginning of the year. I see no reason why motorists in rural areas should not be able to benefit from a similar drop in price at the forecourts.”
Howard Cox, founder of campaign group FairFuelUK, which is pressing the Government for an inquiry of the fuel pricing process, is campaigning for standard prices for petrol and diesel throughout the country.
He said the impact of the “extra 5 or 6 pence” per litre in rural areas was incredibly damaging.
“In rural communities, where public transport is already bad, there’s no choice but to use your car, leaving driver locked in to a vicious cycle of having to pay more,” he said. “The social impact, and the impact on cost of living, is incredible.”
Thirsk and Malton MP Anne McIntosh has written to Chancellor George Osborn lobbying for a rural fuel rebate and greater parity between petrol and diesel prices, due to the rural reliance on the latter.
“The news that fuel prices are coming down is welcome but there is still a big difference between petrol and diesel, which used to be so much cheaper. The differential in diesel should be removed,” she Ms McIntosh, who is chairwoman of the Environment select committee.
“If you’re up in the hills, you might already have to drive 15 miles to and from a filling station, but to travel to York for a cheaper price it could be a 60 mile round trip. A rebate would help all rural communities.”