Cheaper fuel on way for motorists in remote corner of Northumberland

The European Commission has approved a rural fuel rebate for the NE48 postcode area, which includes Wark, Bellingham and Ridsdale

Cheaper fuel on way for motorists in remote corner of Northumberland
Cheaper fuel on way for motorists in remote corner of Northumberland

Motorists in a remote part of Northumberland are in line for cheaper petrol after a key ruling in Europe.

The European Commission has approved a rural fuel rebate for the NE48 postcode area, meaning the price at the pump could soon cost up to 5p a litre less.

The news is a welcome boost for rural communities such as Bellingham, Kielder and Wark.

Garages, who battle high costs for fuel transportation and serve a low population base, will now be able to make the most of passing trade as people travel to tourist destinations.

The move is yet to be rubber-stamped by the European Union, but the Northumberland postcode is one of 17 across the country passed after a hard-fought rural fuel poverty campaign.

Residents who rely on their car say they are penalised with higher prices.

Pauline Turner, director of Northern Garage in Bellingham, said the reduction should be introduced now as the rebate is urgently-needed by Northumberland businesses.

“It would make a hell of a lot of difference for a small independent station like us,” she said.

“Obviously, the current situation hurts the business because people are coming in and putting a minimum amount of petrol in their car - just £10 or £20 to get them to the nearest petrol station in Newcastle.

“It is also having an impact on other trade, because if people are not coming in then we are not making the other sales.”

Pauline added she is pressing George Osborne to act on the news.

“I wrote to the Treasury in December and I still haven’t heard anything back,” she said.

“I hope that it will be brought in as soon as possible so we can pass on the reduction to the community.”

Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury said while the rebate was not yet final, the EC approval was a “major step”.

He said: “This is great news for motorists in these areas and brings a duty discount a step closer.

“Even though fuel prices are falling across the country, they are still higher in very rural areas. As someone who comes from one of the most rural areas in the UK, I know that for people who live in these areas cars are a necessity, not a luxury. I’ve fought hard to reach this major milestone.

“While we have one more stage to go, I want to make sure we are ready to implement this as a top priority so we will press for this to be heard as soon as possible and are today publishing the necessary draft regulations. I’m determined to implement the Rural Fuel Rebate in the current Parliament as part of this government’s drive for a stronger economy and fairer society.”

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