RURAL areas of North Yorkshire have the highest fuel costs in Yorkshire, a new study has shown.

Research by the Countryside Alliance suggests fuel costs have increased more than £5 per month since January, hitting rural businesses hardest.

The organisation is calling for Chancellor George Osborne to cut fuel duty in his pre-budget report this week.

Jenny Dunn, Countryside Alliance policy researcher, said: “This burden weighs far heavier on rural people, for whom cars are a necessity due to the long commutes and lack of public transport options.

“The future viability of rural businesses and communities is under severe threat from the spiralling costs of driving.”

Anne McIntosh, MP for Thirsk and Malton and chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs select committee, also backed calls for lower fuel prices, and wants to see a scheme proposed in rural communities in the Hebrides and Scilly Isles extended to North Yorkshire, with a rural rebate of five pence a litre.

She said: “You only have to look at pump prices and the distances people have to travel to work.

“It would be set in very clearly defined geographic areas and it is not permanent, but a short term relief during very tough times for private households and businesses.”