The Countryside Alliance has welcomed news that the Government is to seek permission from the European Commission to extend the island fuel rebate scheme. The Countryside has long argued that higher fuel prices in rural areas hit motorists unfairly, not least because poor public transport makes driving a necessity. Countryside Alliance research shows that the rural commute is an average of 25% more expensive than the urban commute.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander has said: The move could see a fuel rebate extended to other remote rural areas of the UK with higher fuel costs. Nearly 1,500 retailers in 35 counties and districts in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are being consulted. The island fuel rebate provides much needed help to keep down fuel prices in areas where costs of transporting fuel mean prices are much higher."

The current rebate scheme allows retailers of road fuel within the Inner and Outer Hebrides, the Northern Isles, the Islands of the Clyde and the Isles of Scilly to register with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to claim back five pence per litre (ppl) relief on unleaded petrol and diesel for retail sale within the eligible areas.

Countryside Alliance Executive Chairman, Sir Barney White-Spunner, said: “The cost of fuel weighs far heavier on rural people. The car has fast become an unaffordable basic necessity, so we welcome the Government’s announcement to extend the islands fuel rebate scheme to remote rural areas in other parts of the UK. Countryside Alliance research has shown that people living in rural areas paid 25% more on average per month on their daily commute compared to those in urban areas. We have continually called for support of the hard pressed rural motorist and this is a clear message from the Chancellor that our concerns have been heard and he is addressing the huge discrepancies between rural and urban fuel prices.”

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