The call for action came from the Petrol Retailers Association as it gave evidence to the House of Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee which is investigating fuel smuggling between the province and the Republic. The committee is due to report its findings in May. Meanwhile, this week Patricia Hewitt, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, told the House of Commons that HM Customs & Excise would be deploying extra resources to combat the smuggling of road fuel into Northern Ireland. In addition to the anti-smuggling operations a rolling programme of VAT assurance visits to all petroleum retailers in Northern Ireland had started.
Last year it was reported that the Western Education and Library Board - a Government department - was sending 40 of its 300-strong fleet of school buses four miles across the border from their Londonderry base to refuel, saving £2,000 a month. The practice was subsequently stopped.