Monday, 27 January 2014 01:20

Fuel duty discount plan extended

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Fuel duty discount plan extended

The government has proposed a fuel duty discount for motorists in a further 17 rural areas.

Ministers have submitted an application to the European Commission (EC) for the areas to receive a discount of up to 5 pence per litre (ppl) in fuel duty, said Treasury Secretary Danny Alexander.

Mr Alexander said: "High fuel prices in areas where cars are a necessity, not a luxury, is a major issue in rural communities across the UK.

"So, following a supplementary call for information I'm pleased to announce that seven new areas will join the ten areas already part of our new application."

Reaching agreement with the European Commission would not be easy, said Mr Alexander. But the government would now get on with making that case as strongly as it could.

The addition of seven new areas follows the completion of a supplementary call for information and complements the ten areas originally identified in October 2013.

The seven new postal areas which have met the strict qualification criteria are:

* IV54 (Strathcarron, Highland – Scotland)
* IV26 (Ullapool, Highland – Scotland)
* IV27 (Lairg, Highland – Scotland )
* NE48 (Hexham, Northumberland – England)
* PH41 (Mallaig, Highland – Scotland)
* KW12 (Hallkirk, Highland – Scotland)
* PA80 (Oban, Argyll and Bute – Scotland)

The ten areas that were already identified and which remain part of the application are:

* PH36 (Acharacle, Highland – Scotland)
* IV22 (Achnasheen, Highland – Scotland)
* PA38 (Appin, Argyll and Bute – Scotland)
* PH23 (Carrbridge, Highland – Scotland)
* PH19 (Dalwhinnie, Highland – Scotland)
* IV21 (Gairloch, Highland – Scotland)
* LA17 (Kirkby-in-Furness, Cumbria – England)
* EX35 (Lynton and Lynmouth, Devon – England)
* IV14 (Strathpeffer, Highland – Scotland)
* Hawes (North Yorkshire – England)

In line with European Union law, the UK now needs to secure approval for the expanded scheme from the EC and an application has been submitted.

A final decision on the areas in the scheme and the price discount is expected from the EC later this year.

If the extension is approved, this will raise the estimated number of people benefitting from the scheme to around 125,000.

The new areas have been identified in accordance with a number of strict criteria which the government considers will be critical to their assessment.

Pump prices have to be consistently more expensive than the lowest pump price on the islands in the existing scheme, during the months examined.

Areas also have to be over 100 miles by road from the nearest refinery.

The population density must be no higher than any area in the current scheme. The highest population density of the islands in the current scheme is 135 people per km2.

The government launched a call for information in July 2013 and received a number of submissions to inform the evidence it has submitted.

Given the strict nature of the EC criteria, the government said towns that have not adequately fulfilled these criteria had not been shortlisted.

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