THE impact of rising fuel prices was yesterday branded a “massive national outrage” by First Minister Alex Salmond.
He said it was an “extraordinary position” that Scots are left with soaring prices at the pumps while every other oil producer in the world benefits. Backbench SNP MSP Jamie Hepburn had branded it a “bittersweet irony” that Scots miss out on increasing oil and gas revenues in the North Sea.
Mr Salmond told MSPs that the UK Treasury is expected to reap an additional £4billion in North Sea revenues – on top of the £10billion predicted from initial forecasts.
“There seems to be plenty of room for manoeuvre in order to implement some of the polices to reduce the impact of sky-high fuel prices on the people and industry of Scotland,” Mr Salmond said during first minister’s questions. He said the situation was beyond “bittersweet irony”. I think the mood actually is becoming one of fury in Scotland,” he said. “That we alone among the oil producers of the world, producing 10 times – 10 times – our consumption of hydrocarbons at the moment, should be faced with an extraordinary position that while every oil producer through sovereign funds and the build-up of huge sums of capital has the resources available to power their economy into the future, what’s left for the people of Scotland is paying sky-high prices at the pumps and the industries of Scotland facing escalating costs. A bittersweet irony? A massive national outrage – and it’s time we did something about it.”
Mr Salmond said he and other members of his cabinet have written to the UK Government on the issue, particularly to call for a fuel duty regulator. Shetland MSP Tavish Scott called for government assistance to councils facing additional costs.
Mr Salmond said Scotland must make a claim on the “huge additional resources” flowing into the Treasury.
But a UK Government spokesman denied the Treasury would benefit from increased North Sea revenues.
The next stage of the campaign will be thrashed out at a gathering of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) in Edinburgh prior to drafting a letter to the Chancellor Alistair Darling.