The government should extend fuel duty cuts for remote areas across the UK, according to the Freight Transport Association (FTA).

Although it is pleased about the much-needed relief the cut will offer to the rural economy, FTA says that the whole country would benefit from a lighter tax burden on fuel.

Remote islands like the Inner and Outer Hebrides, Isles of Scilly and the Northern Isles have played host to a pilot scheme since March 2012, in which 5p per litre was cut from fuel duty. The move forms part of a bid to ease the pressure that rising fuel costs place on the local economy in the regions which are most dependent on vehicles.

Now the UK government is asking retailers across 35 counties to provide details of the prices charged for petrol and diesel, with a view to obtaining permission from the European Commission to extend the scheme to isolated inland regions.

But FTA says that the reduction should be implemented across the country rather than applying only to rural areas.

“Today’s announcement by the Treasury is clear recognition that the government accepts the need for a cut in fuel duty,” says James Hookham, FTA director of policy and communications.

He added that the association has long been campaigning for a reduction in fuel duty. The haulage firms which constitute its membership are keenly aware that the rising cost of fuel is putting ever-growing strain on their operations, making it increasingly difficult to compete.

Mr Hookham also explained that customers are suffering as a result of high fuel duty, since increases in running costs will ultimately be passed on to them through higher prices on the shelves.

FTA supports the FairFuelUK campaign, which has been driven by the logistics and haulage industries since it was established in 2011. Among its primary aims is the goal of stopping further fuel duty rises in the course of this Parliament, as well as actively campaigning for reductions. It is also seeking to bring UK petrol and diesel prices in line with those in the rest of the EU.

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