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.ipetitions.com.
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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