15 September 2000
Countdown begins to fuel tax deadline
by FWi staff
FARMERS and hauliers have joined forces in a bid to force the government to reduce fuel taxes or face the threat of further protests.
Demonstrators issued a 60-day deadline on Thursday (14 September) before allowing tankers to resume fuel deliveries. The deadline expires on 13 November.
If ministers have not made clear moves before that date, the Farmers For Action group has pledged that protestors will return to the picket lines.
Dave Handley, chairman of Farmers for Action, helped spearhead the blockade. Future protests would be bigger and more damaging he pledged.
Meanwhile, the National Farmers Union has joined forces with other major representatives of British industry to form an action group.
The group will carry out a thorough assessment of road-use taxes, including VAT, fuel duty and Vehicle Excise Duty.
A meeting will take place in the next few days with proposals to be forwarded to the Chancellor ahead of the pre-Budget statement in November.
Ben Gill, NFU President, said all sections of industry were united in their view that high road taxes put Britain at a disadvantage with the rest of Europe.
He added: “The protests of the last few days have been a reflection of the desperation of the small businessmen and women of this country.”
Other members of the action group include the Confederation of British Industry, the Freight Transport Association, and the Road Haulage Association.
Mr Gill has already had an emergency meeting with agriculture minister Nick Brown to discuss measures to get farming back on its feet after the fuel blockades.
During the two-hour meeting on Thursday, Mr Gill said that lack of fuel because of the protests threatened to have a huge impact on all sectors of farming.
Many arable farmers are still harvesting, growers need fresh produce collected and livestock farmers are concerned about the welfare of livestock.
Mr Gill said: “The Minister was left in no doubt that the scale of the protests… reflects the scale of anger felt by the farming and rural community.”