Report looking into removal of RET finally published

Spring 2012 protest and rally in Stornoway against the removal of RET for commercial vehicles.
Spring 2012 protest and rally in Stornoway against the removal of RET for commercial vehicles.

The report looking into the effects of removing RET of commercial vehicles (CVs) has finally been published.

The report, which was initially due to be made public at the start of this year, today reveals that the removal of RET for CVs has had a significant negative impact on the islands.

It reports that removing RET for CVs has;

- Had a negative effect on the volumes and margins of small hauliers, who play an important role in offering choice in the market;

- Squeezed the margin of trader-hauliers who are key to the economies of small islands like Coll, Tiree and Barra;

- Necessitated an increase in prices for network hauliers who require high volumes to ensure the sustainability of their businesses. In turn this will expose these firms to volume risk; and

- Reduced the volume and economies of scale of full-service hauliers, thus increasing the long-run market rate for haulage.

The report has also confirms that the introduction of RET had positive impacts for local businesses, including improved competitiveness, improved business performance and supporting local economic activity and that in most cases, hauliers used RET to offset rate rises being driven by other operating costs, particularly the significant increase in fuel witnessed in the 12 months to September 2008.

Commenting on the publication of the report Leader of the Comhairle Angus Campbell said: “The findings of this independent study are absolutely unequivocable.

“The Scottish Government now has the evidence that RET was working as planned and that there were real, substantial benefits to the fragile economies of Island areas.

“The removal of RET for Commercial vehicles has been damaging for the economies of the Islands, particularly smaller Islands such as Barra, Benbecula and the Uists, and has been detrimental for consumers who have faced increased prices as a result.

“I call on the Scottish Government, as a matter of urgency, to take the sensible course of action and reinstate RET in full, including for commercial vehicles.”

Gail Robertson, Co-Ordinator of the Outer Hebrides Commerce Group (OHCG) said: “We are pleased that after months of delay the Transport Minister has finally published this study.

“It is an instructive document that clearly shows the devastating, negative impact the removal of cheaper fares are having on island families and businesses. We can appreciate why Mr Keith Brown MSP, Minister was reluctant to publish this document; it nails and dispels many assertions that were untrue.

“We do hope that all elected politicians take time to read it. For some, this report should give cause to hang their heads in shame, for others, we hope it encourages them to keep campaigning until the Scottish Government puts an equitable ferry fares system in place.”