The company responsible for fuel distribution in the Western Isles have given an indication that they will improve the offer currently on the table in order to provide a longer-term solution.
This emerged after a meeting between Certas — previously Scottish Fuels — and the Fair Fuels Solutions campaign group on Tuesday of this week.
The company had already promised to remove the obligation on retailers to enter “exclusivity” contracts and to open access to the Loch Carnan refinery in South Uist and the Shell Street depot in Stornoway to rival firms.
The offer was made to the Competition and Markets Authority — formerly the Office of Fair Trading — who are currently conducting an inquiry into anti-competitive practices in fuel supply in the islands. Had the offer been accepted the investigation would have been dropped.
At a public meeting in Stornoway last week, members of the public expressed concern that the commitments were only short-term and access to the depots could still be blocked in the future. However, Certas now appear prepared to come back with a better offer.
Following Tuesday’s, Callum Iain MacMillan from FFS said: “We are confident from our discussions that the company will confirm acceptance of the terms set out at the competition commission meeting in Stornoway.
“Amongst the commitments which Certas have indicated they will move to will be the introduction of a new ‘Platts plus’ pricing policy, extension of the supply arrangements for Stornoway to five years — rather than two — and significant investment in the Loch Carnan depot.
“If these commitments are fulfilled, islanders for the first time ever can have confidence that on completion of the competition commission’s latest enquiry we will have a fair fuel solution. This demonstrates what can be achieved when our people work together for a common objective.”