By Daniel Hunter

The UK has submitted an application to the European Commission (EC) to extend the rural fuel rebate scheme to ten new towns, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander has said.

Following a careful assessment of all the evidence, three towns in England and seven in Scotland were judged to have met strict criteria, for example exhibiting pricing characteristics similar to the islands eligible for the existing discount, which the EC have indicated will be critical in their assessment.

In line with European Union law, the UK now needs to secure approval for the expanded scheme from the EC. An application for the ten towns and the supporting evidence has been submitted to the EC. The UK is seeking up to a five pence per litre (ppl) cut in fuel duty for the areas selected.
The areas that could see fuel duty cut:

Acharacle (Scotland — Lochaber), postcode: PH36
Achnasheen (Scotland — Ross & Cromarty) postcode: IV22
Appin (Scotland — Argyll and Bute) postcode: PA38
Carrbridge (Scotland - Badenoch and Strathspey) postcode: PH23
Dalwhinnie (Scotland - Badenoch and Strathspey) postcode: PH19
Gairloch (Scotland - Ross & Cromarty) postcode: IV21
Hawes (England — North Yorkshire) postcode: DL8 3
Kirkby-in-Furness (England — Cumbria) postcode: LA17
Lynton (England — Devon) postcode: EX35
Strathpeffer (Scotland - Ross & Cromarty) postcode: IV14

A final decision on the areas in the scheme and the price discount is expected from the EC next year. If the extension is approved this will raise the number of people benefitting from the rural fuel scheme to nearly 120,000.

Danny Alexander said: “As a Highlander, I know all too well that fuel prices tend to be highest in areas where a car is needed the most. We’ve already delivered a tax cut for remote islands and now want to extend that to mainland rural areas that suffer from similarly high prices to the islands.

“We have put together the strongest possible evidence base to try and maximise the places that get it. As I’ve said before, it won’t be easy to get this agreed with the Commission, but I will do everything I can to make this happen”

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