SNP MSP Rob Gibson has challenged the Chancellor to give Far North businesses and travellers a break over high fuel costs.
Speaking ahead of a visit from SNP Enterprise Minister Jim Mather to Wick this week Mr Gibson said that high fuel prices were one of the major constraints on business success in rural and remote areas such as Caithness and Sutherland.
"SNP pressure forced Alasdair Darling to postpone a 2p hike in fuel duty till October. What I am saying to him now is he should give businesses and motorist a break and cancel it altogether along with replacing arbitrary increases with a fuel duty regulator."
"A regulator would stop the fluctuation which we currently see at the pumps. In an era of high oil prices we need that stability both for business and public transport. It is time for the UK Government to wake up to our needs ."
A recent report from the Road Haulage Association stated that UK hauliers found it patently unfair that they continue to subsidise their continental competitors through high levels of taxation on fuel, eight years after the Government announced proposals to address this problem.
Mr Gibson said...
"We need a level playing field on fuel prices throughout the Continent. However what is patently obvious is that when it comes to the UK the Government makes sure that the odds are stacked against people of rural Scotland especially in the North and West."
"Time and time again they have denied SNP pleas for a special derogation on fuel duty which could be achieved through the EU despite these areas paying some of the most expensive prices in Europe. This derogation allows the state to reduce fuel prices and has already happened in France with UK support.
"However when the same has been asked for rural areas of Scotland the answer from the UK Government has always been a flat no. It is another example of why Scotland cannot rely on the UK to speak for our needs at the European top table and why we need a seat of our own."