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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 June, 2004, 13:00 GMT 14:00 UK
Hauliers stage fuel price protest
Police escort hauliers
Hauliers set off at between 5mph and 10mph with a police escort
Road hauliers have taken to the streets of Edinburgh to protest against the continuing high cost of fuel.

Dozens of hauliers set off from the Portobello area at 1000 BST sounding their horns, accompanied by a police escort.

It had been thought that 400 trucks might have taken part in the protest.

The lorry drivers headed for the city centre and on to Gogar on the city's western outskirts, where the protest ended at 1130 BST.

The demonstration was organised by members of the Road Haulage Association in Scotland.

RHA chief executive Roger King said: "We are happy with the numbers because we did not want to create too much disruption but we want enough to make our point.

"Three to four hundred is over the top from our point of view to do what we are setting out to do, which is telling Gordon Brown to review the fuel tax increase in September in a positive way."

Phil Flanders, the association's director for Scotland and Northern Ireland, said: "The members within my region are suffering like never before.

"Operators are now working to the tightest possible margins, meaning even a small profit on a job will soon be a thing of the past."

We have to keep this pressure up through the summer
Phil Flanders

Environmental campaigners also gathered by the roadside in a rival protest.

Greenpeace activists were at the scene and Scottish Green Party transport spokesman Chris Ballance said they provided a "counter voice" to the fuel demonstration.

As the vehicles drove through the city at between 5mph and 10mph, Green MSP for the Lothians Mark Ballard stepped in front of the first truck in Princes Street with a banner reading "Stop Climate Change" before he was removed by police.

Other environmental campaigners booed and hissed the trucks before the convoy moved on.

Protest postponed

Mr Ballard said: "I wanted to make a point to the truckers, that climate change is the biggest issue facing Scotland.

"Cheap oil is not an option - we need to burn less, and get our economy less dependent on oil.

"We need to find another way to help the haulage industry change for a better future - where more freight gets onto the railways, where truck movements are more efficient and fuel use is reduced."

The association has warned of the impact if Chancellor Gordon Brown goes ahead with plans to increase duty levels by 1.9p per litre from 1 September.

Greenpeace banner
Greenpeace activists attended the protest in support of fuel prices

Earlier this month the chancellor said he would review that decision again in August, leaving open the option that the rise could be postponed.

A number of planned fuel protests across the UK were postponed after his announcement.

The Fuel Lobby, one of the main protest groups, said it was prepared to give Mr Brown "the benefit of the doubt" as it waited to see his proposals.

However Mr Flanders added: "A promise of a review is not good enough for the hauliers in Scotland.

"We have to keep this pressure up through the summer to make sure the chancellor does give it a fair hearing."


SEE ALSO:
Fuel protesters call off action
04 Jun 04  |  Politics
Brown to review UK petrol prices
04 Jun 04  |  Politics


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