Norfolk misses out on fuel duty tax cut

Photo credit: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire.

Photo credit: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire. - Credit: PA

Drivers living in Norfolk have missed out again after ten rural locations in the UK have been earmarked to receive a five pence per litre cut in fuel duty.

It comes following an application submitted to the European Commission (EC) to extend the rural fuel rebate scheme for three communities in England and seven in Scotland.

Overseen by chief secretary to the treasury, Danny Alexander, the move has yet to be approved by the EC and critics have been quick to point out that eight of the 10 areas to benefit are in constituencies with Liberal Democrat MPs - including two in Mr Alexander's own seat.

But defending the claims, he said the 'strongest possible evidence base' had been put together to 'maximise' the places that would receive the fuel subsidy.

A 'disappointed' Jon Clemo, chief executive of Norfolk Rural Community Council, said it was frustrating for Norfolk which is all too often branded as an 'affluent' area - despite the pockets of deprivation.

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'We understand the rational for fuel duty but when people in rural areas don't have a choice but to use private transport it discriminates against people living in this area,' he said. 'And there is no doubt that transport costs are increasing too.'

And although the county had missed out on the 5p cut he explained that ultimately it would not solve the problem overall.

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'I think this proposal is welcome in many areas but it is not a long term solution to the challenges we face. Long term we will only see fuel prices continue to rise.'

The areas earmarked to receive the fuel duty cut in England are Hawes, Kirkby-in-Furness and Lynton and in Scotland, Acharacle, Achnasheen, Appin, Carrbridge, Dalwhinnie, Gairloch and Strathpeffer.

All of the towns were judged on strict criteria, including showing pricing characteristics similar to the Inner and Outer Hebrides, the Northern Isles and the Scilly Isles - areas currently eligible for the existing discount.

Criteria also included pump price threshold, cost of transporting fuel and population density.

Towns that have not adequately fulfilled these criteria have not been shortlisted as they are extremely unlikely to receive approval from the EC.

In line with European Union law, the UK now needs to secure approval from the EC and a final decision is expected next year.

If approved this will raise the number of people benefitting from the rural fuel scheme to nearly 120,000.

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