Saturday, 10 August 2013

A fuel duty cut for Northumberland?

Last week the Journal reported on our campaign for a fuel duty cut in Northumberland...

A CUT in fuel duty aimed at the remotest parts of the country must include Northumberland, an MP has insisted.

Guy Opperman, Conservative MP for Hexham, said he welcomed proposals to extend a fuel duty discount to the mainland. Under EU rules, the discount can currently only be offered to motorists on islands.

But the MP said it was crucial that rural areas in the North East were included in the scheme.

It follows the Government’s announcement that it is attempting to negotiate a mainland fuel duty discount with the EU.Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, announced in the Commons that it would be making representations in Brussels to extend the current island fuel duty reduction.

“Yes, I will be making the case to the European Commission to extend the local discount, from islands at the moment, to the most remote mainland areas,” Mr Alexander said.

“At the moment we are working to build a case to give local governments local support to get the evidence needed to make that case.”

Mr Opperman said: “I welcome the Government’s decision to stand up for rural car owners and businesses.

“Ever since I became an MP, I have been fighting for lower prices at the pump. Times are tough, but this Government has taken 13p off every litre of petrol for hard-pressed motorists.

“I represent one of the most rural and remote constituencies in the country.

“There is no doubt that people in rural locations pay a premium on fuel, and so I will be pressing for this fuel duty discount to come to Northumberland at the earliest opportunity.”

Every small business in the country is already benefiting from a 13p reduction in fuel duty compared to Labour plans, Mr Alexander claimed.

“This coalition government is on the side of small firms,” Mr Alexander said.

Mr Alexander’s announcement came as he responded to questions from Liberal Democrat MP Alan Reid, who said he welcomed the Government’s “decision to freeze fuel duty and also the decision to introduce the island fuel duty discount”, saying it had allowed businesses on the two islands he represents to “benefit greatly”.