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Am Pàipear Spearheads Rural Fuel Campaign

by Am Pàipear [viewed 10349 times]

Am Pàipear, the community newspaper of the Uists in the Outer Hebrides have launched a campaign on behalf of its readers and the wider community to demand the UK Government take action to reduce the cost of fuel in the islands and rural Scotland.

Speaking about the paper’s campaign Editor, Helena Coxshall said;

‘We have been inundated with concerns from the local community who have asked us what we are able to do to highlight the distress that high fuel prices are causing.

‘Fuel prices have rocketed and our islands are suffering more than anyone. We have decided to take the issue to the government and have launched a petition to the Scottish Parliament requesting that they represent the views of not only our, but Scotland’s wider rural community.

‘Not only does the cost of fuel impact on us all here, with crofters, fishermen, business and motorists suffering, but the additional effect of a decline in tourism hits us even harder.

‘We are asking that everyone who is affected by the high cost of fuel sign our petition on the Scottish Parliament website. If you live in the Highlands, or any other rural community, you will be among the hardest hit. Not only is the price of petrol and diesel rocketing, the price of heating oil has doubled in 18 months, putting enormous strain on the elderly in particular. If you live in our cities you will probably not be able to enjoy your own beautiful countryside and islands as holiday destinations because of the high cost of fuel. It is as beneficial to our urban communities as it is to our rural communities to ensure that the cost of fuel in rural Scotland is not prohibitive.

‘We are not asking for any special treatment over our city neighbours: all we are asking for is that fuel in our rural communities doesn’t cost any more than it does in our cities.’

The higher price of fuel in the Western Isles - where a litre of diesel has passed £1.45 at some petrol stations – means that islanders are paying more tax than anywhere in the country when VAT is added to the basic cost. Islanders have expressed outrage that VAT is added after fuel duty has been taken into account, effectively creating a third, hidden tax. It is believed that fuel in the Outer Hebrides is the most expensive anywhere in the world.

The newspaper’s campaign is supported by Western Isles politicians, Alasdair Allan MSP and Angus Brendan MacNeil MP. Alasdair Allan commented;

‘I would like to commend Am Pàipear for taking this step, and hope that their petition attracts signatures not just from Uist, but from around the Western Isles and throughout rural Scotland.
‘Angus Brendan MacNeil has been raising the issue of island fuel costs in Westminster - where the power over fuel taxes presently lies – and now, thanks to 'Am Pàipear, we have the opportunity to formally ask Holyrood to lobby the UK government on behalf of islanders.

‘The Scottish Parliament has a unique system where any individual citizen can petition parliament to look at an issue and have their day in front of the Parliament's Public Petitions Committee. This provides another chance for the islands to highlight the injustice of paying the highest prices in the world for fuel - in an oil producing country.’

Mr Allan recently secured a debate in the Scottish Parliament on the issue which garnered significant cross-party support.

Angus MacNeil MP added;

‘It is now at least 2 years since I got the famous answer from the London Treasury that they could not lower island fuel duty by 3%, as was agreed by all governments of the EU for rural France, in case people travelled from the cities to the Islands to take advantage of the concession. The Treasury was clearly massively out of touch with this part of Scotland and still is.
‘I hesitate to state the price of fuel per litre in black and white because it goes up so much and so quickly. However at over £1.40 per litre when over 60% of that is tax is clearly far too much especially as the Chancellor will raise, according to estimates, £5-£6 billion, (that's a £5-6 thousand million) more than he expected this year. Diesel in the Republic of Ireland, which has no oil fields as Scotland does, is £1.05 per litre, according to AA Fuel Price Reports.

‘But the overriding factor is that the Chancellor gets more tax per litre on fuel sold in the Uists, and other islands, than anywhere else in the UK and therefore, we probably pay the highest fuel taxes in the world. The Chancellor also charges VAT on his duty and VAT also goes on the increasing base price too. So a triple whammy for the Islands!

‘When I meet the Chancellor in Westminster I will be highlighting Am Pàipear’s important campaign and the real difficulty people are having with fuel prices that are 40p a litre above Irish prices.

‘Many people have contacted me with details and when it hits aspects of island life, the Chancellor will hear the message directly from me.’

More Information:


Fuel Petition Text:

Petition by Helena Coxshall calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to make representations to the UK Government about the cost of fuel in the Western Isles and other rural areas of Scotland which are now amongst the most expensive places in the world to buy petrol or diesel; to highlight in particular the refusal of the UK Government to introduce measures similar to those operating in France which reduce the tax on fuel in very remote areas; to protest at the serious consequences which high fuel prices have for fishermen, motorists and businesses in island and rural areas and to request parity with mainland city prices.

Am Pàipear is the community newspaper of the southern isles of the Outer Hebrides and serves the communities of Berneray, North Uist, Benbecula, South Uist and Eriskay. Am Pàipear has twice been voted Community Newspaper of the Year and has a readership of over 5,000.

Am Pàipear is published by the Uist Council of Voluntary Organisations, the Uist branch of the CVS network.

For further information please call Helena Coxshall, Editor or Archie MacKay, Production Editor and Reporter on 01870 603299 or email editor@ampaipear.org.uk


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