'We won't be seduced with these insults'

Farmers
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Indy Politics

Two concessions were offered by the Chancellor to the agricultural industry in acknowledgement of their key role in September's fuel protests.

Two concessions were offered by the Chancellor to the agricultural industry in acknowledgement of their key role in September's fuel protests.

Gordon Brown said he intended to introduce a freeze on duty on red diesel - a fuel specially dyed so that it can only be used by farmers. He also proposed abolishing vehicle excise duty on tractors and other agricultural vehicles.

Ben Gill, president of the National Farmers' Union, said that together with the 3p cut in diesel, the proposals would mean positive benefits for hard-pressed farming communities. But Mr Gill expressed his fears that some farmers would still feel frustration that Mr Brown had not offered a larger cut in fuel taxes.

He said the abolition of vehicle excise duty for tractors and agricultural machinery would save farmers £40 per tractor - £9m in total. A freeze on red diesel duty would also help reduce the pressure on farming businesses.

He added: "I must, however, point out that the farming industry is in such a state that it is inevitable that many will be distressed that there have not been bigger cuts in fuel tax when it so clearly would have helped to alleviate their problems."

Brynle Williams, the Welsh farmer at the forefront of the protests, said there would be no return to blockade the oil refineries, but described concessions as "an insult" to industry and the public.

He said: "I believe the Chancellor is trying to drive a wedge between the haulage industry, agriculture and the general public and I don't believe he is going to succeed. The general public will see through this for what it is. He has tried to seduce us with tokens like three pence off a litre, but it is not going to work."

He said there would be no return to refinery blockades, but he could not speak for "hard-liners". He added: "This is a final slap in the face for the general public and Mr Brown is insulting our integrity."

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