Motorists in some of the UK’s most remote areas are closer to getting fuel cuts – but HM Treasury insists that no areas of Northern Ireland met strict criteria to qualify for the scheme.
The Government rebate scheme has cleared a major European hurdle, with communities set to benefit including the Scottish Highlands, North Yorkshire, Cumbria and Devon.
Those living in the UK’s most remote islands already get a 5p per litre fuel reduction under the Government’s Rural Fuel Rebate scheme.
But the new scheme approved by the European Commission will also take in 17 remote mainland locations which currently face high petrol and diesel prices.
The issue is now awaiting agreement from other EU member states.
Brian Donaldson, group general manager of Maxol, welcomed the news and will lobby for Northern Ireland to be included.
“We would very much welcome this but it was never on the table for Northern Ireland,” he said.
“There was no active consultation with retailers here that I am aware of.”
Patsy McGlone, chair of the Stormont Enterprise Committee, said he would be raising the matter for discussion.
Scott Kennerley of The Consumer Council, said it had encouraged petrol retailers in Northern Ireland to take part in the consulation and he was “disappointed” that no local areas have been included.
A HM Treasury spokeswoman said Northern Ireland had not qualified, based on pump prices, distance from refineries and population density.