Fuel rebate scheme to take in part of Exmoor
Hard-pressed motorists in a remote part of Exmoor could be in line for a 5p-a-litre cut in fuel after the Government announced a list of target towns.
The flagship Liberal Democrat policy to help with the higher cost of supplying fuel to remote areas is already operating in a number of remote island communities, including the Isles of Scilly.
Now the Treasury has announced that Lynton, in North Devon, will be included in a list of ten new mainland towns due to be submitted to the European Commission (EC) for final approval.
The decision has been welcomed in the earmarked EX35 postcode area, where fuel prices are currently about 5p higher than those widely available in more populous areas.
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But there has also been disappointment that more hard-hit communities in the region were not included, including West Cornwall, where the move has long been championed by St Ives MP Andrew George.
North Devon Lib Dem MP and former Armed Forces minister Nick Harvey said he was "delighted" at the announcement.
"In an area like ours where so many people need cars to go about their day-to-day life, fuel prices have long been prohibitively high," he added.
Devon and Cornwall had been included in a list of 36 remote rural areas which could benefit from the concession.
The Government has asked fuel retailers in the areas to report how much they charge for petrol and diesel.
The Treasury has now submitted an application to the European Commission (EC) to extend the scheme, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander has said.
Mr Alexander, a Lib Dem whose own Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey constituency would benefit from the scheme, has unveiled the list, which contains seven Scottish areas, one in Cumbria another in Yorkshire and Lynton.
He said they had been judged to have met strict criteria, including pricing, which the EC have indicated will be critical in their assessment.
He said: "As a Highlander, I know all too well that fuel prices tend to be highest in areas where a car is needed the most.
"We've already delivered a tax cut for remote islands and now want to extend that to mainland rural areas that suffer from similarly high prices to the islands.
"As I've said before, it won't be easy to get this agreed with the Commission, but I will do everything I can to make this happen."
The areas selected have consistently higher pump prices than are available in locations that already receive a discount.
Andrew George said the Government approach had ignored the main factors which cause rural disadvantage.
"It fails to address the lack of an alternative comparable with urban public transport and the comparative cost of journeys, which I will be raising with ministers," he said.
Yesterday, Barbrook filling station, which is a mile south of Lynton and said to be the only forecourt inside the postcode area, was selling diesel at 143.9pence per litre (ppl) and unleaded petrol at 135.9 (ppl).
Brian Greenslade, the Lib Dem leader of North Devon Council, said the reduction would be "welcome" in the isolated community but lamented that it had not been rolled out more widely.
"If that's the one place they are going to look at the it is good news for them but I think the "the list) is to limited," he added.
"There are many other places who could make an equal claim for that sort of assistance."