Treasury asks EU for Northumberland petrol price cut

The Treasury asks the European Commission to help motorists in NE48 postcode area by cutting fuel duty

Guy Opperman has urged David Cameron to cut fuel duty
Fuel duty could be cut for seven remote locations in Northumberland

Motorists in the most remote parts of Northumberland could be about to see a petrol price cut.

The Treasury has asked the European Commission to let it tweak state aid rules and offer drivers in seven locations the chance of discounted fuel.

Drivers living in the NE48 postcode area around Kielder and Falstone, Northumberland, would receive a maximum five pence per litre fuel duty discount if the plan is given the go ahead.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said: “High fuel prices in areas where cars are a necessity, not a luxury, is a major issue in rural communities across the UK.

“So, following a supplementary call for information I’m pleased to announce that seven new areas will join the ten areas already part of our new application.

“Reaching agreement with the Commission will not be easy, but we will now get on with making that case as strongly as we can.”

Last night the news was welcomed by Hexham MP Guy Opperman.

The Tory MP said: “I have long be campaigning to get areas of my patch on the list and I am delighted we have had this breakthrough. It has been a long haul for us to get here but this really is a step forward. Ever since I became an MP for Northumberland, I have been campaigning for lower petrol prices.

“I represent one of the most rural and remote constituencies in the country. There is no doubt that people in rural locations pay a premium on fuel, and I delighted our campaign has had this success.

“Only a few months ago Labour where criticising me for not winning the case with Government. I am pleased to say they could not have been more wrong. Our campaign has been a success, The Government has listened and Northumberland’s Labour Party got it wrong.”

Ministers decided on the change after campaigning by rural advocates who said motorists in remote areas are more dependant upon their car and have further to travel to get fuel.

The addition of seven new areas comes after ten areas originally identified in October 2013 were backed for the discount. The seven new postal areas which have met the strict qualification criteria include just one, Northumberland, in England, with the rest in Scotland.

In line with European Union law, the UK now needs to secure approval for the expanded scheme from the EC and an application has been submitted.

A final decision on the areas in the scheme and the price discount is expected from the EC later this year. If the extension is approved, this will raise the estimated number of people benefitting from the scheme to around 125,000.

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