Belfast Telegraph

RAC urges retailers to cut petrol prices in Northern Ireland

Fuel retailers have been urged to "immediately" ease pressure at the pumps by passing on a drop in wholesale prices to motorists.

The RAC said a litre of unleaded petrol sold wholesale for 6p less since the end of August, while diesel was down by 2p a litre, giving petrol stations the power to lower prices on the forecourt.

Northern Ireland consistently has the highest costs in the UK, with unleaded at 138.4p per litre.

The AA explained lower prices were due to a drop in oil prices since Syria agreed to sign an international treaty banning chemical weapons and the pound reaching a new high against the dollar.

It comes as official figures showed inflation was down to 2.7%, partly due to a slow down in petrol pump rises.

Petrol prices rose 2p per litre compared with a rise of 3.5p in the same month last year, according to the Consumer Price Index.

But Pete Williams, RAC head of external affairs, said motorists were watching to see whether retailers would reduce prices by sharing the benefits of lower wholesale costs.

He said: "If fuel retailers want the motoring public to fully trust they are operating fairly they should reflect the drop in wholesale prices immediately by cutting pump prices by up to 5p a litre for unleaded and 2p for diesel.

"While supermarket promotions based on money spent in-store in return for a 5p a litre discount coupon at the pumps are beneficial, these are very often only used by retailers at times when the price of fuel has eased.

"It would be far better for all fuel retailers to cut the prices so everyone can benefit. We realise this will mean less margin for the retailer, but the goodwill it creates through transparency would be beneficial in the longer term.

"Motorists are very aware that prices seem to go up far faster than they come down so this really is the time for the industry to demonstrate that's not the case."

The only potential good news on the horizon is that motorists in rural parts of Northern Ireland could pay less for petrol and diesel under Government proposals to extend a fuel rebate scheme.

But that depends on getting permission from the European Commission and is still a long way off.

The AA president Edmund King also said the key issue at the forecourt was the disparity in the cost of petrol between neighbouring towns, in what he described as a "pump price postcode lottery".

"The pump postcode lottery is a persistent menace," he said.

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