Scottish hauliers claim success despite low turn-out

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Scottish fuel demonstrators promised further peaceful protests rather than blockades yesterday after a convoy of fewer than 100 vehicles moved through central Edinburgh.

Scottish fuel demonstrators promised further peaceful protests rather than blockades yesterday after a convoy of fewer than 100 vehicles moved through central Edinburgh.

The convoy of lorries and cars slowed traffic but police said it had caused "only minor" delays. It was the culmination of a two-day protest in which hauliers drove from John o' Groats and Inverurie, near Aberdeen, to Edinburgh, where they handed 50 protest letters to the Scottish Parliament.

Robbie Burns, a spokesman for the People's Fuel Lobby Scotland, said the demonstration had been a success despite a lower than expected turnout. He said it would be the end of the protests for now.

"Nothing has been planned at the moment but we will come up with some ideas at the time of the general election," he said. "The plan now is to form a small committee to keep liaising with the Scottish Executive and keep the pressure on. That's the way forward in Scotland. There will only be dialogue and peaceful protests. The blockades won't happen again."

The protest was met by a counter-demonstration by the Scottish Green Party, which unfurled a large banner bearing the slogan, "Don't truck with the climate".

Robin Harper, a Green MSP, said: "The truckers claim they have the support of the public but they don't ask the public if they are also in favour of increased fuel consumption, increased carbon dioxide pollution and more climate change impacts, like the flooding we've just seen.

"When people hear the full facts they are less inclined to support a reduction in fuel duty."

At a meeting between the protesters and MSPs, a taxi operator, Graham Wilson, said far more ordinary motorists than hauliers were suffering from the price of fuel. "Contrary to popular belief the majority of the public are also calling for a reduction in fuel tax," he said.

The Scottish Executive last night said it would continue to negotiate with the protesters and welcomed their plans for further dialogue. The Scottish Transport minister, Sarah Boyack, was discussing the issue with Westminster to ensure the demonstrators' voices were heard, an executive spokesman said.

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