Alexander unveils cheaper fuel plan for remote areas

Image caption,
Mr Alexander said the scheme would help those in remote areas

The UK government hopes to bring in a scheme to cut the cost of petrol in some of the country's remotest communities, it has been revealed.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said officials were in talks to introduce a duty discount.

He told the Liberal Democrat conference in Dunfermline that up to 5p could be saved on a litre of fuel.

Mr Alexander said the government hoped to start a pilot scheme in the Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland.

He said the Isles of Scilly would also be included in the scheme, which could later be rolled out to other remote areas.

However, Mr Alexander warned that introducing the measure - which was included in the coalition agreement with the Tories - would "not be easy" as the European Commission has to give its backing.

He said: "I can announce today that with my approval, Treasury officials have started the process of engaging with the European Commission on our detailed plans."

He went on: "We want to introduce a pilot scheme that will deliver a 5p duty discount on litre of fuel in the Inner and Outer Hebrides, the Northern Isles and the Isles of Scilly.

"It will take time to deliver, but this plan will make a real difference to people in remote island communities.

"It will not fully remove the price difference that exists, but it will relieve some of the extra costs."

Mr Alexander said the government was working to bring in the scheme because people in the remotest parts of the country were hit by a "triple whammy" of high fuel costs, having to drive long distances and having poor public transport.

And he said the higher costs they faced had been a "huge and persistent unfairness".

With elections to the Scottish Parliament due next year, Mr Alexander also hit out at the Scottish government.

He claimed the Nationalists had "promised the earth" to voters in the run up to the last Scottish elections but said they had "dithered, postured, centralised and deeply disappointed".

New jobs

He told the conference: "The SNP broke their promises. Labour broke the economy.

"Some choice."

Scottish Liberal Democrats leader Tavish Scott told the autumn conference the party stood for "fairness, freedom and social justice".

"We believe in fairness, we stand for fairness and we will deliver fairness - yes, at Westminster and at Holyrood too," he said. "And our country has never needed that more than today."

Mr Scott told delegates the party does not "keel over in the face of a challenge".

He highlighted the party's record in government, stating: "As a party of government we delivered free personal care, free eye and dental checks and fair votes for local government.

"As a party of government we are delivering tax cuts for lower earners, proper pensions for senior citizens and stronger tax credits for those young families that need it most.

"And as a party of government, next year in Holyrood we will deliver new jobs for our economy, quality public services for our society and opportunity for all with an education system that is second to none."

He also called on delegates not to be "inhibited by our opponents, be liberated by our record" as May's elections approach.

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