19 October 2000
Farmers, truckers want 1.5bn off fuel tax
By Isabel Davies
THE NFU and the Freight Transport Association have joined forces to call for sweeping changes to the fuel taxation system, which they estimate will cost the government 1.5 billion.
In a submission to Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, they have called for at least an immediate 15ppl drop in fuel duty for heavy goods vehicles and a reduction in road tax for environmentally friendly cars and light goods vehicles.
The alliance has also demanded that the chancellor should introduce a system that would see foreign HGVs contributing to the upkeep of Britains roads.
NFU deputy president Tim Bennett said the document offered a considered and constructive approach to unacceptable hikes in fuel prices.
The competitive position of UK agriculture and UK transport operators is being seriously compromised by diesel duty and two-and-a-half times the EU average, he said.
The Chancellor cannot continue to rely on the blunt instrument of fuel and road tax as the only means of controlling the growth of traffic on our roads.
The two organisations took the decision to put forward a document despite a last minute decision by the Confederation of Business Industry (CBI) not to become involved in any submission.
The NFU said it was disappointed by the withdrawal, but the union was committed to continuing to press for a reduction in fuel taxes.
The Scottish NFU has also been keeping up the pressure this week with vice president John Kinnaird meeting treasury minister Stephen Timms for talks about the issue on Tuesday (16 October).
Mr Kinnaird explained that farmers felt the effects of high fuel prices in a number of ways as raw materials had to be transported on to farms and finished products were more expensive to get to market.
Meanwhile The Times has suggested that Brynle Williams, the farmer credited with leading last months protests, is to meet with Prime Minister Tony Blair next week.
This meeting could be seen as an attempt to head off renewed protests when the 60-day deadline set by demonstrators expires on 13 November.