SECRETARY to the treasury Angela Eagle this week hinted at the prospect of government action on the crippling fuel prices faced by islanders by saying there would be announcement on the matter “in due course”.
Prices at the pump did drop sharply at some garages in Shetland this week, with Leask’s Motor Garage in Lerwick selling petrol at 113.9p a litre. But the differential compared to mainland prices remains high, with most areas of the UK selling petrol for less than £1 a litre and, in some areas, as low as 94.9p.
In response to a parliamentary question from Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael, Ms Eagle said: “We obviously understand the issues distinctive in island communities and we are continuing to look at the review and will make an announcement in due course, but I hope he will recognise that there has been some easing in fuel prices since the time that we met, but I do understand that there are issues of extra cost which his community have to pay and we are focusing on them I can assure him.”
Mr Carmichael reacted with scepticism, questioning whether ministers grasped the conditions faced by those living in remote islands. “Yet again we have had a positive response but no progress on this very important issue,” he said. “My concern is that the minister simply does not understand how acute this problem is for us in the isles. I shall continue to pursue this and to seek a proper investigation of our local market by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).”