Belfast Telegraph

Petrol prices now a postcode lottery

By Claire McNeilly

The cost of filling up your car with fuel in Northern Ireland depends almost entirely on where you live.

A new Belfast Telegraph survey has revealed that motorists are much better off in some areas compared with other parts of |the province.

Two days ago, the AA sent shockwaves through the industry by reporting that the average price in the UK had hit over £6 a gallon (132.19ppl), while diesel soared to £6.29 (137.92ppl).

But our research has shown that prices here had already reached new record-breaking levels by the beginning of the week.

The findings also uncovered huge discrepancies across 10 major towns and cities surveyed at random for the purposes of this study.

Drivers in Londonderry, for example, currently fork out up to £6.39 a gallon (or 139.9ppl) for petrol, while many of their Omagh counterparts could pay £5.89 (or 129ppl) — a staggering 50p less.

In real terms it means that owners of a Ford Focus — one of Northern Ireland’s most popular cars — could spend an extra £6 per tank-fill on unleaded in Derry.

Commuters using one tank every week would therefore be over £300-a-year worse off simply because of geography, if these conditions prevailed.

We also found that diesel drivers were paying between £6.70 a gallon (146.9ppl) and £6.07 (132.9ppl) in Derry and Bangor |respectively.

That means it would cost almost £11.50 more to fill a Land Rover Discovery in one county than the other.

Maxol general manager Brian Donaldson called on the UK Chancellor George Osborne not to proceed with any further tax increases given the current cost of fuel.

“We don’t want to see this spike in prices continuing because it’s not good for our business or our customers,” said Mr Donaldson.

“If the planned increases go ahead in April it could add another 4p-a-litre to pump prices, which will put an added strain on retailers and further hurt motorists.”

Meanwhile, AA spokesman Luke Bosdet said consumers were increasingly questioning why there is such a huge disparity in pump prices in towns just a few miles apart.

“What you’ll pay for fuel in |your area is largely down to whether you are near an Asda branch,” he said.

“The supermarket typically charges 2p a litre less than mainstream forecourt prices.”

We found all three supermarkets were charging different prices in different locations.

Tesco’s petrol prices ranged from 127.9-130.9ppl, with diesel costing between 132.9-135.9p.

At the Sainsbury’s forecourts we visited, almost all were charging 130.9p for petrol and between 135.9-136.9p for diesel.

Over at Asda, unleaded cost 127.9-128.9p, while diesel ranged from 133.9-134.9p.

Figures based on Belfast Telegraph research carried out on 09/03/11

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