The RHA has accused ferry operators of reneging on their agreement with the haulage industry to pass on fuel price savings to hauliers using routes between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

Despite oil prices plummeting during the pandemic and £35m of funding being made available to help ferry operators, they have not adjusted fuel surcharges imposed on trucks crossing the Irish Sea.

The RHA has challenged them to pass the fuel price savings to hauliers using the routes, pointing out that they are reneging on an agreement with the haulage sector to vary the fuel surcharges on trucks crossing the Irish Sea in line with oil prices.

John Martin, RHA policy manager for Northern Ireland said: “Ferry operators should be reducing their fuel surcharges but so far they’ve refused to honour that commitment.

“Had the price of oil shot up during this crisis I’m in no doubt ferry operators would have increased the levies – so it must work both ways.

“Their refusal to lower the surcharges is estimated to be costing the Northern Ireland economy in the region of £15-£23m each year.”

He said the government had given the ferry firms a £35m lifeline to get through the next few weeks and challenged them to do the same for their customers.

The scheme aims to protect ferry routes, which have seen passenger numbers drop sharply during the pandemic.

Under the scheme, announced by transport secretary, Grant Shapps earlier this month, 16 of the most important routes covering the Channel, the Short Strait, the North Sea and routes between Great Britain and Northern Ireland will be protected and designated as Public Service Obligation routes for up to nine weeks.