Any at­tempt to in­crease duty on diesel in the up­com­ing bud­get would cause dis­pro­por­tion­ate hard­ship on ru­ral Ire­land, lobby groups have said.

Irish Examiner - - News - Pádraig Hoare

Any at­tempt to in­crease duty on diesel in the up­com­ing bud­get would cause dis­pro­por­tion­ate hard­ship on ru­ral Ire­land, groups rep­re­sent­ing fore­court re­tail and hauliers have said.

The Ir­ish Petrol Re­tail­ers As­so­ci­a­tion (IPRA) — which rep­re­sents 500 in­de­pen­dent petrol and diesel re­tail­ers across the coun­try — has now launched a pe­ti­tion ask­ing cus­tomers for their sup­port to fight any plans to in­crease diesel duty.

Sim­i­larly, Ir­ish Road Haulage As­so­ci­a­tion (IRHA) pres­i­dent Verona Mur­phy said any in­crease would put un­due strain on the in­dus­try which she said al­ready paid more than its fair share of tax.

The re­tail­ers group said it was con­cerned the duty rate for diesel at around 50c per litre and petrol at 61c per litre, in­clud­ing car­bon charges, could be equalised.

There has been a huge in­crease in the num­ber of diesel cars on the road in re­cent years be­cause of the mo­tor tax sys­tem chang­ing with en­cour­age­ment to change over from petrol cars.

Around 70% of cars a decade ago were petrol but that trend has flipped dra­mat­i­cally to­day. How­ever, the scan­dal in­volv­ing diesel emis­sions has led to a re­think on diesel cars and a num­ber of coun­tries are in­tro­duc­ing anti-pol­lu­tion mea­sures on diesel cars, with some in­tro­duc­ing bans in the next decade.

Spokesper­son for the IPRA, David Blev­ings said: “We are ask­ing the gov­ern­ment not to in­crease the diesel duty rate as we think it would be detri­men­tal for the econ­omy, ru­ral trans­port and non-city dwellers.

“Any in­crease in diesel fuel cost will hit the ru­ral car user who needs the car to travel, has the po­ten­tial to dam­age the re­cov­er­ing econ­omy in ru­ral ar­eas, will in­crease the cost of con­sumer goods as road trans­port costs will in­crease and could en­cour­age cross bor­der shop­ping for fuel due to euro/ster­ling ex­change rate, thus re­duc­ing re­turn to Rev­enue.”

Mr Blev­ings said it would be “grossly un­fair” on diesel driv­ers if duty was in­creased.

“For the last num­ber of years, the Gov­ern­ment has kept the diesel duty lower thereby en­cour­ag­ing con­sumers to pur­chase diesel cars. Now that they are in pos­ses­sion of a diesel ve­hi­cle, it seems grossly un­fair to pe­nalise them with an in­crease in cost.”

He added that such pro­pos­als did not have univer­sal sup­port with a num­ber of TDs “al­ready speak­ing out against any in­creases” and that the re­tail­ers wanted con­sumers to “show that they do not sup­port the call for in­creases in diesel fuel cost” by sign­ing its pe­ti­tion at www.ipe­ti­

Sim­i­larly, Ms Mur­phy of the IRHA said hauliers were al­ready pay­ing high taxes on fuel. “To be fair, we do re­alise there are se­ri­ous en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues to be tack­led. How­ever, we sim­ply do not have an al­ter­na­tive to diesel.

“Un­til we have that al­ter­na­tive such as elec­tric ve­hi­cles that can go long haul, we are do­ing the best we can with what we have.

“We are al­ready pay­ing through the nose,” she said.

She added: “Other coun­tries have dealt with it from the per­spec­tive that where car­bon taxes are put up on the com­mer­cial sec­tor who are al­ready us­ing AdBlue as an ad­di­tive, the car­bon tax in­creases are re­bated to the sec­tor.

“We are a small per­cent­age of the vol­ume of traf­fic on the road but nonethe­less peo­ple think we have much greater out­put of emis­sions than cars, but we don’t.”

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