Rory Stewart MP and Minister for Environment and Rural Affairs, has applauded the increase of the government’s Rural Fuel Rebate Scheme which will from yesterday allow 125,000 people living in selected rural areas to benefit from cheaper fuel.

Rory has long advocated and campaigned for an extension of the Rural Fuel Rebate pilot, both as MP for the largest and most sparsely-populated rural constituency in Britain, and as former Treasurer on the APPG for Rural Services. In 2011 he helped push a unanimous back-bench motion calling on government to address rural fuel poverty issues. He has over the course of the last government spoken in numerous debates and met with the Prime Minister to push the case for Cumbria to be included in the scheme which has since 2012 seen a limited number of rural communities benefit from a 5p per litre price cut. Today, seventeen further communities – in parts of Northumberland, Cumbria, North Yorkshire, Devon, the Highlands and Argyll and Bute – will benefit, following a year-long EU approvals process. While the UK’s most rural islands already receive this discount, this is the first time ever that the EU has approved this fuel discount anywhere in mainland Europe.

Speaking today Rory Stewart MP said: “This is a great win for rural communities, and I am pleased that we have been able to expand the scheme in this way. Rural isolation is not just an issue of sparse population; it is about a hollowing-out of communities, and the loss of schools, clinics, and police stations. The loss of petrol pumps and other key services is incredibly important too. Our schoolchildren travel increasing distances to get to school, and we are required to travel ever further to access our most basic services. The solution to rural problems is not to move away; rural communities are our lifeblood. The answer is to help in practical ways – in ways that are felt in people’s pockets, and in their disposable income – and that is why I very much welcome today’s news”
Damian Hinds, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, said: “People living in some of the UK’s most rural areas will now benefit from a 5p per litre fuel discount thanks to the Rural Fuel Rebate, which effectively comes into force today. Fuel is often more expensive in very rural areas, even though cars are more of a necessity. However, people in seventeen areas ranging from the Highlands to Devon will now be able to buy cheaper fuel, making travelling to work and school far easier.”

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