Study looks at fuel prices for rebate plan

Filling up at the pump is a costly business
Filling up at the pump is a costly business

Retailers are to be consulted on the cost of fuel to see if a rebate scheme could be implemented in the Borders, similar to that on Scottish islands.

The region is one of a number of areas where the UK Government is looking for data from petrol stations to enable it to put its case to the European Commission.

It hopes to seek permission to extend the island fuel rebate scheme to other rural areas of the country.

The news has been welcomed by Councillor Gordon Edgar, the local authority’s executive member for roads and infrastructure.

Mr Edgar said: “Nothing moves in the Borders unless it is on four wheels, and it is a costly business keeping a vehicle fuelled.

“A fuel rebate would certainly provide an economic boost to the Borders in that businesses could compete on a more level playing field because of a reduction in their transport costs.”

He added: “We are a rural area, and fuel has to come from Grangemouth or the south, so there will be a substantial delivery charge included in the price.”

Announcing the consultation with some 1,500 retailers, chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said: “The island fuel rebate provides much-needed help to keep down fuel prices in areas where costs of transporting fuel mean prices are much higher.

“I know that there are other remote rural areas of the UK with similarly-high fuel costs.”

Mr Alexander added: “As a Highlander, I know that for people who live in rural areas, driving is not a choice, but a necessity.”

Borders MP Michael Moore said: “As a rural area, we face higher petrol prices than our urban counterparts, yet are more dependent on our cars to get around.”

David Mundell MP added: “In my constituency having a car is a necessity, not a luxury.

“The Borders has some of the highest fuel prices in the country, and I have time and again lobbied for measures that will bring down the cost of fuel for hard-working people, families and the small businesses which are the backbone of our local economy.”

An expanded scheme will require approval from the European Commission and other member states due to EU legislation.