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Petrol hits new record high of 142.94p

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The average price of petrol hit a new record high of 142.94p yesterday (Sunday 24 October), exceeding the 142.48p a litre all-time peak reached on 16 April 2012.

RAC Fuel Watch data shows the price of unleaded has rocketed by 28p a litre in a year from 114.5p in October 2020, adding £15 to the cost of filling up a 55-litre family car (£63 to £78.61).

Diesel is also closing in on a new record with the average now standing at 146.50p, just 1.5p off the high of 147.93p, also from April 2012.

The dramatic hike has been driven primarily by the oil price doubling from around $40 a barrel a year ago to $85 now – but some analysts predict it could hit $90 by the end of the year.

While the jump in the price of oil is main reason for the new record pump price it is not the only factor. September’s switch to greener E10 petrol has also played a part, as has the margin retailers are taking on every litre sold which is now greater than it was prior to the start of the pandemic.

On 1 September the bio content of unleaded increased from 5% ethanol to 10%, and as ethanol is more expensive than petrol, it added around a penny a litre to the cost on the forecourt. The bio element of a litre now accounts for 8.5p of the cost prior to VAT in comparison to the pure petrol cost which equates to around 41p. This could easily rise still further as the price of ethanol has gone up by 52% since E10 was introduced.

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Duty at 57.95p a litre still exceeds the combined bio and petrol components which amount to around 50p. VAT currently equates to nearly 24p, but this is applied on top of all other elements of the petrol price including duty and retailer margin.

Since April 2020 retailers have increased their average margin on a litre by 2p from around 5.5p to 7.5p a litre. With volumes sold at the pumps plummeting during the first UK lockdown and remaining lower subsequently retailers, particularly the smaller independent ones, are trying to balance the books.

What makes up the cost of a litre of unleaded?

The cost of a litre of petrol in pence per litrePence per litre
Cost of oil41.79
Bio content (10%) – E109.21
Delivery & oil company1.70
Retailer margin8.59
Fuel duty57.95
VAT23.69
Retail price142.94
Tax cost81.64
Tax as % of average retail price57%
(Table: RAC)

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “This is truly a dark day for drivers, and one which we hoped we wouldn’t see again after the high prices of April 2012. This will hurt many household budgets and no doubt have knock-on implications for the wider economy.

“The big question now is: where will it stop and what price will petrol hit? If oil gets to $100 a barrel, we could very easily see the average price climb to 150p a litre.

“Even though many people aren’t driving as much as they have in the past due to the pandemic, drivers tell us they are just as reliant on their cars, and many simply don’t have a choice but to drive. Those on lower incomes who have to drive to work will seriously struggle to find the extra money for the petrol they so badly need.

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“We urge the Government to help ease the burden at the pumps by temporarily reducing VAT and for the biggest retailers to bring the amount they make on every litre of petrol back down to the level it was prior to the pandemic.”

The average price of super unleaded is now at 154.58p a litre, drastically increasing costs for drivers whose cars are not compatible with new higher bio content E10 petrol introduced in September which contains 10% ethanol. These drivers therefore have no choice but to use E5 petrol which is now only available at the super unleaded grade.

Comparison between 2012 and 2021

While the price of petrol at the pumps may be the same now as in 2012, there are several major differences in their make-up.

In 2012 oil was $117 while now it is 28% less at around $85. The exchange rate, which is important as fuel – like oil – is traded in dollars, is 13% lower today at $1.38 than it was in 2012 at $1.58 which means fuel is more expensive to buy on the wholesale market.

The price of ethanol is also 80% higher than nine and a half years ago at £606 a tonne compared to just £304 in 2012 – and, of course, up to 10% of petrol is now made up of the biofuel, in contrast to 5% in 2012.

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Retailer margin was also lower in 2012 at around 3.5p compared to 8p now. Fortunately, duty remains the same at 57.95p a litre and VAT is also still charged at 20% on the final transaction at the forecourt.

Simon Williams added: “We’re lucky the oil price isn’t as high as 2012 as we’d be paying even more at the pumps if it was, as the exchange rate is 13% lower which means wholesale fuel costs more for retailers to buy in.

“On the other side of the coin, unleaded now includes 5% more bio content and ethanol is far more expensive than petrol.

“But, even taking that into account, the petrol element of the price is still around 5p a litre cheaper than it was nine and a half years ago which points to the increased retailer margin now being taken.”

(Lead image: RAC)

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Motoring

New law change means £200 fine and 6 points for ANY use of hand-held mobile phones at the wheel

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Prosecution regulations have been tightened on the use of hand-held mobile phones at the wheel.

Police will soon be able to more easily prosecute drivers using a hand-held mobile phone at the wheel after the government strengthens existing laws to further improve road safety.

It is already illegal to text or make a phone call (other than in an emergency) using a hand-held device while driving. Next year, laws will go further to ban drivers from using their phones to take photos or videos, scroll through playlists or play games.

This will mean anyone caught using their hand-held device while driving will face a £200 fixed penalty notice and 6 points on their licence.

Drivers will still be able to continue using a device ‘hands-free’ while driving, such as a sat-nav, if it’s secured in a cradle. They must, however, always take responsibility for their driving and can be charged with an offence if the police find them not to be in proper control of their vehicle.

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Too many deaths and injuries occur while mobile phones are being held.

“By making it easier to prosecute people illegally using their phone at the wheel, we are ensuring the law is brought into the 21st century while further protecting all road users.

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“While our roads remain among the safest in the world, we will continue working tirelessly to make them safer, including through our award-winning THINK! campaign, which challenges social norms among high-risk drivers.

“This follows a public consultation that found 81% of respondents supported proposals to strengthen the law and make it easier for culprits to be prosecuted.

“Following the public consultation, the government will revise The Highway Code to explain the new measures. It will also be more precise about the fact that being stationary in traffic counts as driving, making it clear that hand-held mobile phone use at traffic lights or in motorway jams is illegal except in very limited circumstances.

“There will be an exemption to the new law for drivers making a contactless payment using their mobile phone while stationary to ensure the law keeps pace with technology.

“This exemption will cover, for example, places like a drive-through restaurant or a road toll, and will only apply when payment is being made with a card reader. It will not allow motorists to make general online payments while driving.”

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Mary Williams OBE, Chief Executive of Brake – the road safety charity, said: “Driver distraction can be deadly and using a hand-held phone at the wheel is never worth the risk. This important road safety decision by government, coinciding with Road Safety Week, is very welcomed.

“This news is particularly welcomed by families suffering bereavement and catastrophic injury due to drivers being distracted by phones. The theme for Road Safety Week is road safety heroes – we can all be road safety heroes by giving driving our full attention.”

Edmund King, President of the AA said: “By making mobile phone use as socially unacceptable as drink-driving, we are taking big steps to make our roads safer. For years, the AA has campaigned hard and helped educate drivers to the dangers from bad mobile phone use.

“To help ensure drivers get the message, we also need more cops in cars to help catch and deter those still tempted to pick up.”

Simon Williams from the RAC said: “As our phones have become more sophisticated, the law has not kept pace and this has allowed some drivers who have been using their handheld phones for purposes other than communicating to exploit a loophole and avoid the maximum penalty.

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“While today’s announcement is clearly good news, it’s absolutely vital that the new law is vigorously enforced otherwise there’s a risk that it won’t deliver the sort of behaviour change that will make our roads safer.”

The Department for Transport has also today published a study by Ipsos Mori about drivers who use mobile phones while driving.

Among other findings, the research reveals younger motorists are more likely to have used a handheld device at the wheel, supporting the focus of the government’s award-winning THINK! campaign, which works to boost road safety by targeting higher-risk, younger motorists and road-users.

(Lead image: Roman Pohorecki on Pexels.com)

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Carmarthenshire

Vehicle charging hub, a first of its kind in Wales

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A new electric vehicle charging hub, a first of its kind in Wales, is soon to be opened in Cross Hands.

The superfast charging hub is located off the A48 and will provide four 50KW rapid chargers and one 150KW super rapid charger.

The chargers are supported by photovoltaic cells which will provide a source of clean energy and help reduce draw from the national grid.

The project is funded through the Welsh Government’s Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle Fund.

This latest scheme is part of Carmarthenshire County Council’s ongoing efforts to support sustainability as it works towards becoming a net zero carbon local authority by 2030.

The council has already installed 28 fast charging points across the county with a further 15 being added by the end of March next year.

Last week the council launched a new campaign Prosiect Zero Sir Gâr to coincide with COP26 – a global summit for climate action – which shines a spotlight on efforts being made to become carbon neutral.

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Investing in infrastructure to support sustainable travel is just one of the initiatives the council has underway to support its efforts to tackle climate change.

The council intends to build on its work to date, ten years ago the council became the first local authority in Wales to introduce electric pool car vehicles for staff to use.

Six years ago the current fleet of refuse and gritter lorries were renewed and the council procured Euro VI vehicles with reduced emissions technology which were the most advanced at the time.

As these vehicles fall due for replacement the council is trialling electric powered bin lorries for future use. Changes have also been made to refuse collection routes to reduce vehicle mileage.

Next year, working in partnership with the Wales Government and Transport for Wales, the council hopes to introduce electric buses on the Traws Cymru Carmarthen to Aberystwyth bus route.

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Some smaller scale projects have also been developed to support more sustainable travel including Carmarthen Bus Station which has a fully operational Bike Hire Dock with eight folding bikes. Two further locations will be operational before Christmas at Burry Port and Llanelli.

The council has also recently installed eight eBike charging locations at Carmarthen Leisure Centre, Amman Valley Leisure Centre, Llandovery Leisure Centre, Pembrey Country Park, Eastgate and the Beacon in Llanelli, Pendine Trip Attractor and St Catherine’s Walk with facilities to securely store bikes. These will be available shortly.

Five Taxi eBikes for children with limited mobility have also been installed in primary schools across the county and 12 eCargo Bikes will soon be available free of charge to businesses across the county.

Carmarthenshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Cllr Hazel Evans, said: “The number of electric vehicles on our roads is increasing year on year and we need to ensure that drivers have access that is convenient and reliable. We remain committed to supporting the development of high quality, reliable EV infrastructure to the residents and visitors of Carmarthenshire and have recently produced an EV Charging Infrastructure Strategy that will allow us to plan and set targets for the next 10 years.”

Cllr Evans added that the council is continuing to pull out all the stops to progressing its commitment to sustainable travel.

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“We are working closely with partners and Welsh Government to identify new areas where extra provision will prove beneficial, not just along the strategic road network, but also inclusive of destination charging and for specific initiatives such as the ‘Ten Towns’. Our eBikes are intended to support more sustainable travel in our town centres, as well as reducing carbon emissions and improving the air quality of town centres this will contribute to improved road safety and a reduction in vehicular traffic. And we are already making better use of out of technology by allowing staff to work from home and meet online to reduce the need for travel.”

Cllr Ann Davies, Cabinet Member for climate change said investing in sustainable travel plays a significant part in the authority’s efforts to tackle climate change. She said: “We have to look at our whole approach, so for electric vehicle use to grow, the infrastructure needs to be in place. We have achieved so much already but recognise that we have much more to do – that’s why we have launched Prosiect Zero Sir Gâr to galvanise our efforts and ensure everyone plays a part in helping us achieve net carbon zero.”

Lead image: Carmarthenshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Cllr Hazel Evans (Image: Carmarthenshire Council

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Motoring

Wales records the fewest number of road traffic casualties out of all the UK’s regions

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According to the latest government road safety data, there were 818 Welsh road traffic casualties in 2020 – a 13% decrease from the previous year, despite a regional reduction in car traffic vehicle miles of 24% due to the pandemic and resulting lockdowns.

Wales also recorded 71 road traffic fatalities and 744 serious injuries, making it statistically, the safest region in the UK in terms of total casualties. 

With Road Safety Week commencing from the 15-21 November, these statistics show that despite the best efforts of government and other road safety groups to reduce the number of casualties, there are still a large number of major incidents occurring, relative to the amount of traffic on the UK’s roads.

Jeanette Whyman, Serious Injury Lawyer from Wright Hassall commented: “Despite the significant decrease in traffic in 2020, we are still seeing a considerable number of serious injuries on our roads, often resulting in people needing compensation for their life-changing injuries.

“To give you a better understanding of how widespread road safety issues are in the UK, we have offered a regional breakdown of the latest government data, which details the situation on our roads and shows the need to seek expert legal advice if you are involved in any such incident.

“Although the latest figures show a decline in the number of road traffic casualties, this 13% reduction must be taken in context against an overall drop of 24% in car traffic vehicle miles.

“This shows major road traffic incidents are still a regular occurrence, which unfortunately means a lot of innocent victims will have their lives negatively impacted as a result. And ultimately, if it wasn’t your fault, then you shouldn’t be left to bear the emotional or financial consequences.”

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(Lead image: Dominika Kwiatkowska / Pexels.com)

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