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The truths they don't want you to read....

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Fuel discount discounted. Or not?

The coalition is all over the place with it's views on a fuel duty discount.  Cameron disapproves and Alexander approves.  Sort of.  For both.

Not surprisingly as what they are trying to achieve is fiscally complex and will be difficult to implemnt and police.

The easy option, which could establish the principle for rolling out elsewhere, is simply to create duty free zones, such as the islands.  Fuel deliveries of under £200 would be duty free.  Go above that and full duty would be payable.  Commercial operators could be approved - like subcontractors are - to receive larger deliveries tax-free, subject to the same inspection rules that currently apply to red diesel.

No smuggling problem, visitors and locals alike can benefit, and then work out how to roll this general philosophy out in a different way for the mainland.  How far from Inverness is remote?  Why (hypothetically) is there a discount in Garve but not Contin?

Why does our MP persist in trying to demand a system that cannot quickly be delivered, when quick and easy benefits for this constituency could be set-up in a fraction of the time; without compromising the general principle of what he seeks?


Common Sense said...

Duty free zone?
Can you imagine the howls of anguish in Applecross if you did that? Or Skye?
Get real, people.

Anonymous said...

Let Applecross and Skye howl in harmony. The real disadvantages of living on any of the offsshore islandsare all too grim to be swept under the carpet in fear of upsetting other mainland rural communities.

Try sitting in Oban, Uig, or Ullapool in the middle of winter and wait- sometimes for days - for a ferry to appear. At least on the mainland you can jump in your car and travel at any time of the day or night.

In winter the travel difficulties mean that a large section of the locals are living in what could be loosely called an open prison.

Any small economic advantage should be seized upon. Time the islands stood up for themselves rather than pandering to the feelings of the mainland.

A local discount card system similar to that used for air travel would ensure that the camper vans during the tourist season would pay the full whack so there would be no loss of tax revenue from those that are passing through.

Anonymous said...


Yup, gotta keep those nasty camper vans off the island if possible. We all know they load their larders to the gunnels at Waitrose, get their multiple fuel tanks filled in Morrisons at Inverness, and then scrounge cups of water from the welcoming natives of Barra, while they enjoy the benefits of a free stay on the machair. That's the way to promote economic development. Well done!

Anonymous said...

6.49 12.20 here again

It may be that I am still recovering from the rigors of new year and am somewhat overly sensitive, but do I detect a hint of sarcasm in your tome?

I'm all for developing the tourist sector and bringing camper vans to the islands, but...but...where to start?

I do think that there is a long way to go before we can even pretend that we are catering adequately for tourists, let alone being able to see a coherent development strategy which can bring benefit to the island as well as easing the stay for these birds of passage.

The point which I did not make very well in my original post was that we have to look to giving the residents that live on the islands for all of the year as much economic leverage in their daily lives as is possible. Once that has been achieved then we can start to look to providing facilities for those that pass through.

There is a somewhat bizare focus on providing facilities for the tourist, while islanders are apparently regarded as a somewhat lesser species.

Try coming off the ferry in winter at Leverburgh to do some work in Harris. Used to be that you got a cracking breakfast at the pier cafe which opened in time for the first ferry. Last time I was over the cafe was closed, Rodel closed, the wee cafe in Obb closed, the last chance saloon in the harris motel did not serve any food, and we finally managed to suffer a cardboard fish complete with tinned peas and oven chips in John Murdo's salubrious (cold) hotel.

Add the above to fuel that is now £1.43 per ltr. and you can start to see why there is a Hebridean winter wonderland that the tourist, or tourist minister, will never unfortunately experience.

Ultimately we are at the mercy of the whim of the larger political parties. I know an independant candidate would be in the wilderness in terms of political muscle, but a canny operator could easily punch far above their weight for the direct benefit of the islands without the need to be continually looking to the party HQ.

Any takers?

Anonymous said...

12:20 local discount card system

Aye, local discounts for local people. Double discount if you have six fingers on one hand, are married to your first cousin from Barvas, and wash your car in your garage with the door down on a Sunday while pretending to observe the sabbath.

Next you'll be claiming that those nasty people from the mainland should be punished, pay full whack, made to feel uncomfortable here (reads on a bit) oh you just did...

What's the Gaelic for Royston Vasey...?

Anonymous said...

8.27... 12.20 here again

Not exactly sure what raw nerve I have touched but am slightly taken aback at the thought that appears to be unreasonable to want to better the lot of the islanders.

Ever heard of positive discrimination? I take my hat off to countries such as Norway and the Faroes who have this practice virtually enshrined in their legislation.

The use of a local discount scheme in whatever form it takes should not be too difficult to achieve, particularly as there are already various schemes in place which reflect some of the economic difficulties that the islands face.

For instance; the air discount scheme, RET, and distant islands allowance. There are flaws in each of these, nonetheless they are a form of subsidy for the islands.

Agricultural and marine users have access to reduced duty diesel and marine users of petrol can reclaim the duty. Why would it be so difficult to open this to all island residents? This idea has been floating around for some time but there has never been the political will to make it happen.
Perhaps if everyone started using red diesel in their vehicles then it might be possible to embarrass our so called leaders and force a change in local fuel policy.

After all, it was the continued local protest that brought about the abolition of tolls on the Skye bridge.

Anonymous said...

To be fair to your MP, Alastair Carmichael has been pressing for a discount in the duty for the Highlands and Islands for a long time and has succeeded in getting the treasury under Danny Alexander to look at it for the first despite the Labour claims that it was impossible. On that basis it would be daft for your man to start down a different avenue particularly as what Alastair Carmichael is seeking is in force elsewhere in the EU.

Anonymous said...

50% of the cost of running the railway network falls on the tax payer. Unfortunately those of us who live on the islands cannot use this mode of transport to get us to and from work. Surely there is a good case to reduce our travel to work costs by a similar amount.

Anonymous said...

11:29 As you didn't realise the obvious, the comments were about your (tiresome) singling out of campervans in particular.

Anonymous said...

I think we [including me] travel far too much. Our employers often want us to travel too much too. The biosphere cannot cope with us travelling so much - hence extreme weather around the world which in turn puts the costs of food for us and makes living conditions for other intolerable or impossible. Maybe higher fuel costs will make us consider modifying our travel plans and re-evaluate our lives for the better.
We already get subsidies on the ferry, buses and flights even if we don't have trains.

Foot-loose said...

By the time we have agreed some minor miracle relating to fuel derogation of 5p per litre, we'll be paying £2.00 per litre, and many retail fuel outlets will have closed and we'll all be ojn bicycles. The Scot Govt should use the islands as a "pilot" for use of electric vehicles. Deliver a few hundred cars/buses (courtesy of Honda), and set up electric refuelling at strategic locations. WIHB and CnES (and Northern Constab) should take the lead. Let's think out of the box and finally accept the fact that petrol/diesel will only go one way as far as price is concerned: through the roof. An electric vehicle can journey for 100 miles before needing a top-up. Ideal for most journeys on these islands. Where is our entrepreneurial sense of achievement and success?

Anonymous said...

Foot-loose may be onto something there. The length, and largely narrow-like shape of the Outer Hebrides lends itself to needing not that many recharging stations to provide cover for electric vehicles.

I do fear, however, that the technological backwardness of the Comhairle would mean they'd end up with the worst, and costliest, system available if it was left to them. Probably costing residents many millions of pounds, with vehicles that do 5 miles before developing flat batteries, and recharging stations that don't work most of the time.

Far-fetched? Erm, you've only got to look at Connected Communities broadband and how the Comhairle got suckered into that. Eight years ago, now. Cost to date? Reliability? Speed of service? How many residents and businesses have it?

No, if it's emerging or essential technologies, the Comhairle need to be kept well away, as they are easy pickings - with our money - for the first silvery tongued dodgy salesman who comes along...

Anonymous said...


As a former silvery tongued dodgy salesman, now a respectable board member of Storas Uibhist, I can finally announce (exclusively on this blog, later through CNN) that we in the southern hemisphere of the Hebrides are somewhat ahead of the curve.

I can now reveal that there will be free land yachts given out to all Uist pensioners - and council employees, as they are in a hurry too - also that there will be ample parking provided for them in our new marina. All of course generously provided by way of a small grant from our ever generous patrons at the Enterprising Board.

Never let it be said that there is no lateral thinking south of the Clisham

Foot-loose said...

BBC News item today: Warnings of a rural fuel desert in Scotland. You read it first here, yesterday. Follow link to read more:
An earlier blog referred to lack of alternative transport options here, with no rail travel available. Mainland Rail subsidy per passenger mile is in the region of 20p paid for by taxpayers (HMRC), incl residents of these islands. Any rebate now long over-due to island inhabitants can be re-allocated to provision of electric vehicles and re-fuelling points, say in strategic locations at Stornoway, Tarbert, Leverburgh, Lochmaddy, Balivanich, Daliburgh and Castlebay.
The Chief Secy to the Treasury Danny Alexander (educated at Iochdar S Uist) commented last Oct that he was seeking fuel derogation of 5p per litre (big deal!), but now saying that this requires the approval of the European Parliament, with no application until after the Budget. Little prospect then of any hope here in the next couple of years. Fuel prices meantime going only one way.
This is now an urgent and critical matter for many island employees unable to continue paying exorbitantly high fuel prices

Anonymous said...

As suggested this morning on Radio Scotland, (Kaye Adams) we should all consider our current employment and location and perhaps ...... MOVE

Tried selling your house recently?

Anonymous said...

2:42 Sold our house okay.

Hardly any families, or locals, interested. However, there's a large number of retired people from England, especially the south, who want to move to the Outer Hebrides; they can retire on the difference between what they sell their house for, and what they pay for one here.

Good for people selling houses here. Probably disastrous in the long term for the islands. Imagining the year 2030 and the BBC interviewing the last and only schoolchild in the Outer Hebrides. Not that far-fetched.

Anonymous said...

That'll be nice, a colony for rich retired people from south of the border....... lovely ....packing my bags now.... house for sale.

Anonymous said...

8:34 There will still be locals here. Seems many of them are not interested in buying property here as they already own some, or will inherit, or own land they can build on when they need to.

Anyway, seriously - why would a family move here? Employment prospects: dire. Transport links: precarious. Support in setting up small business: dire. Kids, family needing acceptable broadband access: best not go there...

Retired people need none of those things, hence the balance of people moving into the island being from that demographic. It's no surprise, really.

Anonymous said...

An excellent proposal for fuel regulator from the Labour candidate today.

Anonymous said...

Just seen Donald Chrichton's latest plan to win votes:

Chances of succeeding with this? Zero. Does anyone really think the government is effectively going to give £400 a year to every motorist in rural Scotland?!!! You're having a laugh.

This may pick up a few votes from the most gullible of residents (the intention?) but it would have been so much better to come up with a more realistic scheme or plan to entice the government. This isn't a 'radical new plan' - it's plain stupid as the government will take one very brief look at it, do the math, guffaw then reject it.

Must try harder. D minus.

Anonymous said...

1:58 How can it be 'excellent' if it has no hope of happening? What will that achieve?