Ceredigion MP Mark Williams has spoken in the House of Commons this week about the challenges faced in rural areas to deal with the costs of fuel, and the possibility of the rural fuel duty derogation.
Following the Government’s call for evidence from rural areas in the UK about the cost of fuel last year, there has been disappointment in Wales that a criteria has been included in the evidence gathering which stipulates areas within 100 miles of an oil refinery should not be able to apply. This excludes the whole of Wales, including areas like Ceredigion, where the proportion of income spend on fuel, coupled with population sparsity should surely mean our inclusion in an application.
Commenting following the debate on Rural Communities, Mark Williams said:
‘I am pleased that the Government have been willing to look into the possibility of this scheme, which is more than can be said of the previous Government. However, as I said in the debate, I am concerned about the criteria used in the scheme, and it's breadth of coverage. Whilst I understand how the case had to be made to secure the rural fuel duty derogation in the Scottish Islands and the Isles of Scilly, the criteria needs to be different now.
‘Having lobbied to get Ceredigion included in the call for evidence in the first place, and contacting all petrol stations in Ceredigion and submitting evidence, there was a lack of clarity as to who was responsible for collection the evidence, and who the call for evidence was aimed at. There was further confusion as to why, following the publication of a list of 10 areas where prices where high in the UK, there was a second call for evidence which added new criteria which hadn’t been mentioned before. If these criteria such as distance to an oil refinery and population sparsity are to a part in the application for the rebate, what weighting is given to them given they were not included first time around. Indeed, given that all of Wales is within 100 miles of an oil refinery, why were Welsh Authorities included in the first call for evidence at all. There are areas of confusion which need clarification. I don't doubt that the cost of fuel transportation is an important feature in pricing in the Scillies or Outer Hebrides, but our proximity to Milford Haven has not meant that Ceredigion residents are paying less for our fuel.
‘I commend the Government on the action it has taken this far to assist with the cost of fuel, such as the abolition of the fuel duty escalator and freezes on fuel duty, but evidence shows that in rural areas we continue to pay more for fuel. A fuel duty derogation would be of great help to many of my constituents, and it is important that the Government pursues this and assesses the criteria it uses, with renewed urgency.’