Black cab protest over biodiesel hikes


London taxi drivers are set to join the growing ranks of motorists piling pressure on chancellor George Osborne over fuel duties ahead of the Budget.

The UK Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance (UKSBA) has asked black cab drivers to complete a lap around Parliament Square, called Taxis ‘Toot the Treasury’, between 9.20am and 9.40am on March 7.

Cabbies have been asked to join the protest over changes to the subsidies for sustainable biodiesel.

They will beep their horns 20 times as they pass the Treasury, highlighting the fact that from April 1 the tax for fuel made from used cooking oil is expected to rise by 20p per litre – making it roughly the same price as traditional fuel.

This will have a massive impact on companies like Southwark-based Uptown Oil, which provide an alternative fuel source for eco-conscious companies and more than 1,000 London-based taxi drivers.

The UKSBA has pointed out that while the government is investing heavily in low-carbon technologies, its refusal to stop the biodiesel tax increase will drive people away from thinking about the environment.

Uptown Oil director Jason Askey-Wood said: “People will go out of their way for biodiesel at the moment to benefit London’s environment because it’s cheaper – but that won’t happen any longer.”

Biodiesel firms like Uptown Oil will now bank on getting extra business from companies who are willing to pay more for low-carbon alternatives, but Askey-Wood said this will effectively ends its use as a road fuel.

“There are lots of office buildings that are willing to pay more for biodiesel, but it’s a great shame they’re killing it as a road transport fuel,” he said.

“But you never know, Christmas might come very early and the chancellor might change his mind.”

Meanwhile, FairFuelUK, which is backed by the RAC and freight organisations, has also taken its battle over forecourt prices to the Treasury.

Representatives of the fuel price pressure group have met with Treasury minister Chloe Smith to ask why British motorists pay the highest fuel tax in Europe.

Motoring journalist Quentin Wilson, who is a spokesman for FairFuelUK told BBC Breakfast: “We want the Treasury to understand that by cutting duty we will stimulate the economy, create growth, get people back spending again.”

He added: “We have got to stop this fuel duty monster from taking control.”