Price checker tool ‘could account for Northern Ireland’s lower fuel prices’

Price checker tool ‘could account for Northern Ireland’s lower fuel prices’
Northern Ireland’s fuel prices are slightly lower than elsewhere in the UK, and the AA says an online tool that encourages transparency could be the reason.

The Consumer Council of Northern Ireland’s Fuel Price Checker allows motorists to shop around for the best price.

The checker debuted in 2020 as a service designed to collate and compare data from more than 80 service stations.

The compiled figures allow drivers to judge local prices and seek the best deals, helping them save.

Experts believe well-equipped motorists have helped drive national prices down, as more expensive locations are forced to charge less at the pump.

Luke Bosdet, a spokesman for the AA motoring association, said the tool reduced prices by up to 6p.

The Consumer Council’s service helps promote competition, a key driver of low petrol prices.

Petrol pumps must compete with one another in an area with high station concentration, meaning they fight for the lowest pricing.

The Consumer Council has cited the tool as a key aspect of the country’s lower pricing, but it isn’t the sole factor.

Professor Goretti Horgan, a senior lecturer in social policy at Ulster University, said it also depends on people’s proximity to the border with the Republic of Ireland.

She told the News Letter she thought the disparity with the rest of the UK was “indicative of price gouging”.

Professor Horgan added prices at pumps are cheaper closer to the border as “businesses know customers will go there for cheaper fuel”.

She said there was more the Government could do to lower prices, adding: “Cutting fuel duty is an obvious move since fuel duty is over 50p per litre of petrol.

“While it has already been cut by 5p per litre, it remains more than 25 percent of the cost of a litre.

“They could also follow France and other countries and introduce a price cap on all kinds of fuel.”