FARMERS AND rural workers in Wales are on the point of revolt over record energy prices, according to the man behind the Welsh fuel protests in 2000.
“We are very, very close to direct action. The mood is tinder dry and it only needs one spark,” said Brynle Williams, a farmer and Welsh Assembly member.
“Things start ever so quietly, but displeasure seems to be getting louder and louder. The agricultural industry cannot sustain the cost of transport.” He claimed that dairy companies and feed compounders were poised to increase their collection charges.
“I wrote to the Chancellor on Oct 14 pointing out to him that the price wasn’t sustainable – if a tax cut is not possible, then I suggest an essential user rebate for farms and road haulage. I don’t want a return to the 2000 blockades.”
He added that farmers in Wales were waiting to see what the Chancellor’s response would be before deciding on action. A spokesman for the Treasury said that September’s duty increase had been postponed, while the pre-budget report at the end of the year would look at the problem further.
The warning was echoed by the Farmers Union of Wales, which said that forecourt diesel prices in rural areas of Wales averaged about 90p/litre but reached 93p/litre in some areas.
“Anything that moves on and off the farm is being hit by the high fuel prices. So many, especially in the dairy industry, are living on a very small margin and any increase in costs is very serious,” said Alan Morris at the FUW.
The French government has recently agreed to pay 259m into a contingency fund that will reimburse some of the extra fuel costs being borne by essential fuel users, chiefly farmers and hauliers. They will receive a rebate of about 2.5p/litre of fuel.