Page last updated at 12:32 GMT, Tuesday, 27 May 2008 13:32 UK

Hauliers cushioned from fuel hike

By Niall Blaney
BBC News website

Lorries in protest convoy
Hundreds of lorry drivers travelled in convoy to central London

Northern Ireland hauliers are being cushioned against rising UK fuel prices by filling up in the Republic.

Hundreds of lorry drivers angry at soaring rates travelled in convoy to protests in central London.

However, Road Hauliers Association UK chairman Willie Oliver, from Coleraine, said NI drivers had the advantage of refuelling over the border.

He said it would reach the point where oil was auctioned off to the person prepared to pay the highest price.

"As far as Northern Ireland hauliers are concerned, it is different for them because they are buying fuel in the Republic," said Mr Oliver.

"Obviously hauliers here would like to see fuel prices on a par with the Republic of Ireland, but the reality is that there is not going to be a cut of 20p per litre.

"The argument is against the oil companies, it is not against Gordon Brown. The rate of duty has not changed since 1999, when it was 50.21p per litre, compared to 50.35p now.

"I have spoken to the chancellor, and his attitude is that in real monetary terms there has been a reduction in cost."

Hauliers say diesel prices topping 120p a litre, plus a planned 2p fuel tax rise, will drive firms "to the wall".

Protesters have demanded an "essential user" duty rebate for HGV drivers.

Noel Smyth, Northern Ireland regional manager of the Petrol Retailers Association, said: "Retailers don't have any control over this, most of them make a profit of about 2.5p per litre, which isn't a fortune.

"We could see a lot of smaller retailers going out of business as they can't take a full tank from their supplier and therefore they end up paying more they for what they do get."

CURRENT NI PETROL PRICES
BELFAST PETROL DIESEL
Highest 119.9p 129.9p
Average 115.7p 127.8p
Lowest 111.9p 122.9p
ARMAGH
Highest 116.9p 132.0p
Average 114.5p 127.7p
Lowest 113.9p 123.9p
ENNISKILLEN
Highest 119.9p 134.9p
Average 117.9p 133.3p
Lowest 114.9p 129.9p
LONDONDERRY
Highest 119.0p 135.0p
Average 117.3p 131.1p
Lowest 115.9p 126.9p
COLERAINE
Highest 118.9p 129.9p
Average 114.4p 126.8p
Lowest 111.9p 121.9p
Source: petrolprices.com





SEE ALSO
Darling 'listening' over road tax
27 May 08 |  UK Politics
Are motorists being priced off the roads?
27 May 08 |  Have Your Say
Treasury 'must end fuel tax plan'
22 May 08 |  Business
Tories warn of car tax 'timebomb'
14 May 08 |  UK Politics
Fuel costs force haulier to close
14 Apr 08 |  North East Wales

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