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North folk enjoy cheap fuel early

Last year's Northmavine jarl Ian Nicolson fills up at the new Hillswick pumps when they first opened a year ago. The birthday is being celebrated with the cheapest fuel in Shetland - Photo: Maree Hay, NCDC

TWO of Shetland’s smallest filling stations are now offering some of the cheapest fuel in the isles, by cutting fuel duty ahead of the competition.

The local shops at Ollaberry and Hillswick in Northmavine have already introduced the government’s fuel rebate, almost one month ahead of the 1 March deadline when others are expected to follow suit.

As a result they are selling unleaded petrol for 140.9p a litre and diesel for 147.9p a litre, 5p less than is being charged in the largest Lerwick filling stations.

The coalition government announced the fuel duty cut in November after the European Union granted final approval to the derogation scheme for the Scottish islands and the Isles of Scilly.

Retailers were able to start claiming the rebate from 1 January, to ensure they did not suffer cash flow problems when they started charging 5p less on 1 March.

Larger filling stations selling thousands of litres of fuel a day feared they would be left out of pocket waiting for Her Majesty’s Customs & Excise to refund the rebate.

However the community-owned Northmavine shops, which sell far less fuel, have decided to pass on the rebate to customers early.

Hillswick shop manager Sheila Tulloch said: “This week is the first anniversary of our petrol pumps going into action after we re-opened the shop, so it’s a great time to celebrate and say thankyou to all our customers by passing on the fuel rebate as soon as we can.”

Northern isles MP Alistair Carmichael congratulated the two shops for taking the plunge and cutting the price of fuel early, but warned other communities not to expect the same treatment.

“The scheme is not expected to be implemented fully until the 1 March, but if local filling stations are able to start passing on the reduction early then I think they ought to be praised for doing so,” he said.

“The purpose of the two month lead in was to allow filling stations to build up sufficient reserves so that they would not be left with cash flow problems as a result of delivery issues.

“Local people should not therefore expect other filling stations to follow this example.”
The Liberal Democrats have taken full credit for implementing the fuel duty rebate as part of the coalition government.

However Mr Carmichael and local MSP Tavish Scott have also pressured the Office for Fair Trading to re-open their investigations into fuel costs in the northern isles, which remain well above mainland prices.