A debate on the cost of fuel duties in the North takes place this week in Westminster and has been welcomed by East Derry SDLP Assembly Member John Dallat who said: “Probing questions need to be asked and will be asked by the SDLP MPs who know there is a real problem which is affecting huge numbers of people here in Northern Ireland.
“In a region which has an average income well below the national average we are paying the highest prices in the whole of Europe and on top of that we are consistently paying higher prices for petrol and diesel than motorists pay in England, Scotland or Wales.
“Coupled with higher motor insurance, the cost of running a car here is staggering and riddled with inequality which cannot continue.
“The debate this week hopefully opens up new opportunities for a detailed investigation into how fuel is priced in the North and will add strength to the call by the Office of Fair Trading for an inquiry into why petrol and diesel prices have rocked in recent years.
“The whole issue of the cost of oil needs a root and branch examination to discover why energy is so prohibitively expensive. Our manufacturers are paying 17% more for electricity which is driven by oil and gas prices and in danger of driving them out of business; our transport operators are working at a distinct disadvantage again due to the crazy cost of fuel oil and on the domestic front thousands of oil burners are switched off because people experiencing fuel poverty cannot afford the high cost of heating oil.
“Hopefully the real debate can now begin.”