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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 April, 2005, 02:31 GMT 03:31 UK
Truckers to mass for fuel protest
Protests in 2000 almost brought the UK to a halt
Protests in 2000 almost brought the UK to a halt
Lorry drivers in Scotland are due to stage a protest over fuel costs outside the Grangemouth oil refinery on Friday.

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) said the demonstration at BP's Scottish headquarters would be "entirely lawful" and would not be a blockade.

The RHA's 1,000 Scottish members have been contacted about the plan and hundreds of lorry drivers are expected to turn up - without their vehicles.

Blockades took place at oil refineries in 2000 in protest at high fuel costs.

The RHA said that with global prices rising, the UK's fuel duty levels remain exceptionally high.

It is our lawful right to highlight in as many ways as we can the particular situation facing road hauliers in the UK
Roger King
RHA chief executive

Hauliers are also worried about the European road transport directive which came into effect this month. This limits the amount of time they can work.

They claim it is putting too much pressure on them because they cannot complete their jobs within the time constraints.

Lorry drivers said it is especially difficult for Scottish hauliers, who are further away from European markets, to meet deadlines.

This factor could lead to companies relocating to England, they warned.

The decision to go ahead with a picket outside Grangemouth was taken at a meeting on Tuesday evening.

'Verge of collapse'

RHA senior vice-chairman Willie Oliver said: "There was a lot of anger present in that room.

"There were a lot of hauliers who see their businesses on the verge of collapse."

RHA chief executive Roger King said: "Any campaign of this kind must be absolutely lawful.

Grangemouth
A picket will be held outside the Grangemouth plant

"We do not condone the blockading of any oil refinery.

"It is our lawful right to highlight in as many ways as we can the particular situation facing road hauliers in the UK."

He also urged the Scottish Parliament to set up a commission to report on the state of Scotland's road haulage industry.

CBI Scotland said it was sympathetic, but warned against blockades.

Director Iain MacMillan said: "If goods can't get to our supermarkets and the supply chain grinds to a halt that would cause the business community in Scotland and the public very considerable harm."

Mucking around with a few taxes here and there will not confront the really big problems coming up
David Spaven
Transform Scotland

The chairman of Transform Scotland, which campaigns for sustainable transport policies, said the hauliers' complaints were a "red herring".

David Spaven said: "If you look at the tax burden as a whole Britain is not a lot different from the rest of Europe."

He said he felt sorry for the hauliers - but that he did not have a great deal of sympathy for a fuel price protest.

"We are effectively leaving the era of cheap oil and entering the era of expensive oil," he added.

"That is a global phenomenon and mucking around with a few taxes here and there will not confront the really big problems coming up. We need drastic action."



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