As we report this week, the European Commission has granted its consent for a derogation on fuel duty for Shetland, Orkney, the Outer and Inner Hebrides, the Clyde islands and the Isles of Scilly. The idea of lower fuel duty in island communities has been around for many many years, and several countries, including Portugal and Greece, already operate schemes of the type that we can now expect to see introduced here.
Given that European finance ministers have still to ratify the decision, and the fact that it will take time to implement the scheme, it may be early next year before consumers see a fall in prices directly as a result of the tax reduction. But it is to be welcomed nonetheless.
We must also hope that it prompts those in government to persuade the competition authorities to examine the palpably unfair situation that exists in Shetland and elsewhere, of a monopoly distributor maintaining prices above what would be market value.
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Well done to Stuart Cameron, Andrew Hawick and Kevin Williamson for completing the Mongol Rally. In typical Shetland fashion, the trio also succeeded in raising the most money for charity of any of the racers who made their way across the European continent and into Asia. They exhibit the best of the can-do Shetland spirit.