Rural motorists who are among the most reliant on their cars are being exploited by pump profiteering, new figures suggest.
Campaigners says Scotland’s rural drivers are the victims of “highway robbery”, as the price of petrol varies by up to £14 a tank between built-up areas and their suburbs.
Fair Fuel UK’s analysis reveals some huge gulfs between the cost of unleaded within a 25-mile radius of 13 parts of the country.
Perth had one of the widest gaps in Scotland, with those in the city paying as little as 120.7p a litre, compared with a high of 140.9p elsewhere in the shire.
Paying that higher rate could cost Perthshire families an extra £600 a year.
There are also big variances between different parts of the country, according to the “pumpwatch” figures covering May 8. Angus motorists could not find unleaded for cheaper than 121.7p a litre on that day, while those in the centres of Edinburgh and Glasgow were able to fill up for as little as 115.7p.
Kirstene Hair, the Angus MP who is chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on Fair Fuel, said the figures show a “deep unfairness” for households already facing budget pressures.
“Many constituents in Angus depend heavily on their cars to get to and from work, due to poor public transport links,” the Scottish Conservative said.
“This situation will be reflected in many other areas and they should not be exploited. I believe my constituents, and people across Scotland, deserve greater transparency about what they are paying at the pump.”
Howard Cox, who is the chairman of the Fair Fuel UK pressure group, said prices are being inflated in rural areas, as profits are squeezed in towns and cities because of supermarket competition.
“There are huge variations in the amount of profits taken at the pump, largely depending on how far you go from the centre of an area,” he said.
“Where there are supermarkets, prices are driven down considerably.
“But in more rural areas, prices are both higher and the amount of profit shoots up.
“Motorway service stations exploit drivers even further, literally highway robbery.”
Lowest/highest average fuel prices, (pence per litre):
Service stations say their prices are higher because many are open around-the-clock and run more services than normal forecourts, while also paying high rents. Garages in remote areas argue fuel is more expensive there because of bigger transport and supply costs.
Motorist groups suggest that mass avoidance of the most expensive pumps will help drive prices down.
Last week, the RAC warned that the pockets of drivers would be hit by a “toxic combination” of rising oil prices through the weak pound, production curbing from OPEC and geopolitical instability.