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Government committed to fuel pilots

THE PRESSURE to run a pilot scheme with reduced fuel costs in Scotland’s islands is gathering momentum.

Cross party MSPs from the northern and western isles have written to chancellor George Osbourne asking him to run pilot schemes in their constituencies.

Meanwhile under secretary of state for Scotland David Mundell confirmed that the coalition government is committed to finding a way of reducing fuel costs in remote and rural areas.

Speaking in Shetland at the weekend, Mr Mundell said: “The coalition government is committed to look at getting a derogation from the EU to have a differential tax on fuel within the UK.

“The aspiration is to have a number of pilot projects and I am absolutely sure that the secretary of state for Scotland will be arguing at the heart of government that these pilots or at least one of these should be here in Scotland.

“Quite clearly given the level of fuel prices, particularly in northern Scotland and the islands, it’s a prime candidate to have that pilot. Motoring isn’t a luxury in this part of the world, it’s an absolute necessity, and I think everyone has picked up in the general election the need to do something about it.”

Liberal Democrat MSPs Tavish Scott and Liam McArthur joined SNP MSP Alasdair Allan in signing the letter to Mr Osbourne, pointing out that their three constuencies “regularly compete in fuel prices surveys for the unwelcome prize of having the highest price”.

They wrote: “The high cost of fuel, in places where public transport alternatives to the private car are inevitably limited, imposes a serious burden on our constituents. Individuals and businesses suffer.

“Not only is the need for action to cut costs greater in the islands than elsewhere, but the boundaries of the islands are already clearly defined. So an island pilot could go ahead without the need to spend time trying to define the boundaries for a mainland based pilot.”