The Scottish Government and NFU Scotland are calling on Westminster for a fairer deal on fuel for farmers and crofters through the introduction of a fuel duty regulator.

The SNP, together with Plaid Cymru, has criticised the Chancellor’s Finance Bill for failing to address the issue of rising fuel costs.

They said they supported a halt to plans for a further 3p hike in fuel prices, due to come into force in August, and said they would campaign for a fuel duty regulator to stabilise prices in the long term.

Rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead said: “Fuel costs are a real burden for farmers and crofters, contributing to rising costs of goods such as feed and fertiliser as well as the cost of getting livestock to and from market.

“Measures brought forward so far by the UK Government have been inadequate and have been more than offset by a sharp increase in prices.

“That’s why we’ve repeatedly called for the UK Government to make fuel duty fairer, through the introduction of a fuel duty regulator to reduce the rate of duty when wholesale prices rise.”

NFU Scotland joined Mr Lochhead in his calls for a fuel duty regulator, and said it would make a major difference to small businesses and rural communities at a relatively low cost.

A spokesperson for the union said: “NFU Scotland is very concerned about the rising cost of fuel and its effect on rural businesses and communities. This is being felt most acutely in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, where public transport is severely limited and fuel prices are among the highest in the UK.

“Not only do Scottish farmers and others living and working in rural communities have to pay higher fuel prices for their own vehicles, they are also hostage to haulage and other delivery costs. The cost of transporting the inputs of feed, fertiliser and fuel is so high, as is the cost of delivering produce to the market, that it is putting Scotland’s already fragile rural communities at a competitive disadvantage with other EU producers.”

Fuel prices in Inverness-shire

 Year 2012   2011 2010  2009 
 Diesel Engine Road Vehicle (DERV) fuel  145.9ppl  140ppl  117ppl  95.4ppl
 Red diesel  73ppl  66ppl  48ppl  37ppl
 Kerosene  63.9ppl  57ppl (was 66ppl in Jan)  48ppl  38ppl

Fuel prices in Aberdeenshire

 Year  2012  Feb 2011  Feb 2010  Feb 2009  June 2008
 Diesel Enging Road Vehicle (DERV) fuel  144ppl  131.9ppl  111.9ppl  97.9ppl  128.9ppl
 Red diesel  72.2ppl  62.95ppl  51ppl  37.1ppl  66.88ppl
 Heating oil  62ppl  56ppl  47.5ppl  33.8ppl  59.99ppl
 *Crude oil  $101/barrel  $103/barrel  $77/barrel  $43/barrel  $140/barrel