Government Action on Fuel Needed for Rural Economy

NFU Scotland has called on the UK Government to act now to reduce the burden that record fuel prices are imposing on the rural economy.

The Union is looking for Westminster to scrap any plans to increase fuel duty in April and is lending its support to the development of a fair fuel stabiliser to bring an end to soaring prices.  The Union is also calling on the Government to move quickly on its promise to look at variable fuel duty rates that would address the disproportionately high fuel prices found in more remote areas of the country.

NFU Scotland President Jim McLaren said:

“This isn’t about farmers, it is about the improving the wellbeing of Scotland’s rural economy.  The blunt truth is that the current surge in fuel prices to record levels, compounded by higher levels of VAT, is hitting hard all those who live and work in rural areas and we need Westminster to react quickly.

“The creation of a fair fuel stabiliser to regulate returns from fuel duty as oil prices increase would make a major difference to small businesses and rural populations.   A stabiliser was on the radar of some politicians when they were in opposition and who are now in Government, giving them the opportunity to deliver on a policy that they know will make a real difference to families and businesses at this time.

“Similarly, Government has raised the prospect of a trial in rural areas of a reduced rate of fuel duty to recognise the higher fuel prices found in more remote parts. With pump prices in some regions of Scotland already approaching a staggering £1.50 per litre for diesel, Government must remember that in rural areas, the private car is a necessity, not a luxury. 

“The use of measures to reduce fuel taxation in remote rural areas, such as those already used by France, Portugal or Greece, would be hugely beneficial to the economic health of these communities. The UK Government needs to get cracking with its proposed pilot on rural pricing if it is to create a similar benefit in rural areas here.

“Such immediate action on fuel prices is totally justifiable as transport sits at the centre of the whole rural economy.  As farmers and food producers, our members are reliant on haulage to bring inputs onto the farms and crofts and we need to deliver our livestock and produce to the marketplace and eventually the shop shelf.  The fact that our diesel prices are now amongst the highest in Europe is undermining the efficiency and competitiveness of our whole food chain and if that is not addressed now then it will damage these areas in the long term.

“At the same time as they address issues on fuel, the Government also needs to reconsider the substantial rise in the band K vehicle excise duty rate made last year.  The weather endured during December has simply emphasised the important role that four wheel drive vehicles play if farmers and rural dwellers are to continue to function during poor weather.  Many farm businesses are simply not able to purchase a vehicle that has lower carbon dioxide emissions and still be able to do the job required of it around the farm.   This winter has shown that 4x4’s on farms are not luxury items but essential, working vehicles.”


Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Date Published:

News Article No.: 05/11

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