Motorists in remote areas could pay less for petrol and diesel under Government proposals.
Petrol stations in remote areas have been asked to let the Government know how much they charge for petrol and diesel so ministers can seek permission from the European Commission to extend a discount scheme, which currently operates in remote Scottish Islands.
Residents in the Isles of Scilly get a 5p discount because the costs of transporting fuel there means prices are much higher.
The Government is now looking at extending this to remote areas of the country and is consulting nearly 1,500 retailers in 35 counties and districts, including Powys and Herefordshire.
Although petrol sellers in Shropshire, England’s largest rural inland county, are not currently involved, the idea of making fuel cheaper in its remote areas was welcomed.
Councillor Keith Barrow, leader of Shropshire Council, said: “I think it is a brilliant idea. People in rural communities are at a disadvantage, many of them have no choice but to drive and Shropshire is one of the largest inland counties.”
MP for Ludlow Philip Dunne said: “Any moves to extend this scheme into remote rural areas I would support.”
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said today that while gaining approval will not be easy, the Government was striving to make it a reality.
He 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.
“We will need to prove that there are areas which are similar to the islands in terms of pump prices and distribution costs so I would urge local areas that may qualify to provide the information we need to make the case as robust as possible.”
However, campaign group FairFuel UK has said that the measures don’t go far enough.
Quentin Willson, FairFuelUK spokesman, said: “I welcome the Treasury’s acknowledgement that the UK needs a duty cut, but we need it across the country, not just for remote communities.
“Everybody is hurting not just the few.”
Steve Owen, from Potters Garage in Welshpool, said he wasn’t convinced that the discount would ever be brought in.
He said: “We certainly haven’t been consulted yet if it was brought in it would be a great help to businesses and to motorists.
“People in rural areas have to use private transport, they have no alternative.”