We’re still paying through the nozzle

With the summer break just around the corner the thoughts of deserted roads and queue-free commutes are appealing, but they are surely offset by the prospect of long treks across the country to holiday destinations.

A car loaded to the gills with children, luggage and the essential beach paraphernalia is not only short on space but heavy on fuel - the worst possible situation when petrol prices remain high.

But while the Government remains quiet on the subject, the swell of disquiet is finally leading several key organisations to take action.

Motoring groups across Europe have demanded the European Union launch an investigation into soaring petrol prices.

The Federation Nationale de l’Automobile (FIA), which represents 35 million drivers and counts both the AA and RAC as members, has written to the EU claiming the way prices are determined is “far from transparent”.

UK petrol prices hit record levels in April as the wholesale price of oil soared, but have been much slower to come down as the price of crude oil dropped back again. A full tank for an average European car now costs around £10 more than it did a year ago.

The FIA letter calls for an inquiry into how benchmark prices are set on the Rotterdam spot market, where cargoes of petrol and diesel for the whole European market are bought and sold.

Werner Krauss, chairman of the FIA Eurocouncil, said in the letter: “A platform with such a small volume is doubted to be a representative indicator for the vast European market.”

Mr Krauss also wants the EU to look into the role of speculation on oil prices, adding that the FIA is very concerned about the “resulting volatility in fuel prices and negative financial impact on consumers”.

Luke Bosdet, of the AA, said: “No one is giving us any answers as to why petrol prices are so high. We need greater transparency so that everyone can see we are paying a fair price for fuel.”

The AA wants to see an independent regulator to balance the interests of the supplier, retailer and customer.