Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil is writing to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander MP, to ensure the government is ready to react on the day the EU Commission approves the Rural Fuel Derogation for the islands. Mr MacNeil has received information from inside the European Commission that this should happen during the summer and before the August break. The Government applied to the Commission on Budget day six months after the Chief Secretary to the Treasury first announced his intension to do so to the Lib Dem Autumn Conference.
Mr MacNeil said: ”From the information I have now from sources inside the Euro Commission we could have our 5p off the fuel now if the Con/Lib government had acted more quickly. People are really hurting with the current higher than mainland costs of fuel on the islands. Diesel everywhere seems to be over £1.50/litre. I had a constituent from Castlebay message me today complaining diesel was £1.53 for a litre. These prices are crippling the economy.
“I want no further delays or excuses from the Lib/Dems or the Tories when the EU gives the green light I want them to drop the duty on fuel in the remote areas immediately. We could have had that in place now had the Lib/Dems moved in the autumn and not waited to reannounce the same thing in the spring. Mr Alexander should come out and clearly say that he will react immediately once the EU gives the green light.
“I am heartened that the Scottish Secretary is taking forward and investigating the possibility of an OFT investigation into the distribution of fuel to the islands. However, that will be a project for the long term; meantime we need to see the derogation, that we should have now implemented spread to other areas in the Highlands quickly once the pilot project is over.
“For context in Oct 2007 a litre of diesel in the Islands was 107.9p people cannot shoulder this rise especially when our tax take on diesel is the highest in the EU and when today our neighbours in the Faroe Islands have diesel at 1.04 a litre approximately.”