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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 September, 2003, 09:13 GMT 10:13 UK
Fuel protesters urge disruption
Petrol pump
The price of petrol is due to go up
Motorists across Britain are being urged to "stop for a minute" during morning rush hour on Wednesday to protest against fuel duty increases.

The stoppage is timed to coincide with prices going up by 1.28p a litre (5p a gallon on petrol and diesel).

Andrew Spence, who led protests at high fuel prices three years ago, is urging drivers to take part in Wednesday's action at 0830 BST.

Mr Spence, of the People's Fuel Lobby, told the BBC: "Obviously we want people to find somewhere safe to stop, but at the end of the day, if you feel hard done by this excessive taxation, then just stop."

The farmer from County Durham, organised a convoy from the north-east of England to Downing Street in November 2000.

It followed disruption in September of that year when farmers and hauliers organised blockades which nearly brought the UK to a halt.

Green issue

The latest increase in duty was announced in the Budget in April but its implementation was postponed for six months because of uncertainty in the world oil market.

Chancellor Gordon Brown announced the increase last Thursday.

Mr Spence told BBC Radio Newcastle: "With the fuel coming up, we would like the public - motorists, hauliers, taxi drivers, bus operators - to stop for 60 seconds".

But environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth said it supported the rise in fuel duty if it would help persuade people to use their cars less.

Tony Bosworth said: "The cost of motoring is falling. That's why Gordon Brown is right to put up fuel tax. This will help cut congestion, cut pollution and tackle climate change."

Panic buying

During the 2000 fuel protests, oil refineries were picketed to prevent the delivery of supplies to petrol stations and there were go-slow convoys on motorways.

A rush for fuel caused chaos at garages and 90% ran dry before supplies eventually arrived.

The Treasury has said that fuel duty has been "reduced by 13% in real terms" since 2001.

Labour was forced to abandon the controversial "fuel price escalator" it inherited from the Conservatives.

The "escalator" meant that prices increased above inflation every year.

The following year, the government cut duty on fuel in the Budget.

It has remained frozen until now - a measure which has cost the chancellor 1.8bn, according to the Treasury.

Petrol price rise announced
25 Sep 03  |  Business
Fuel strikes 'inevitable'
26 Sep 03  |  Essex

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