Conservative MEPs have issued a joint challenge to their Labour and Liberal Democrat opponents to "show they really care" about Britain's farmers by supporting a vote on Thursday which would recognise the importance of red diesel to Britain's farmers and fishermen.

Conservative MEPs have ensured that new laws which will be voted on in Brussels this Thursday will not subject non-road mobile machinery, such as tractors, to new pollution control limits from 1st January 2005.

If passed, the vote will prevent yet more burdensome costs being put on Britain's farmers and fishermen. If the vote to treat red diesel as a special case were defeated, it would put up the cost of fuel, and endanger the reduced rate of tax that is currently paid on it.

Local MEP Sir Robert Atkins says: "I and the rest of the Conservative team here in Brussels challenge the non-Conservative MEPs of this region to support this proposal".

"We are determined to secure this exemption. It will be a victory for farmers and other rural workers. Failure on Thursday would see the cost of fuel for farmers and fishermen rising, the last thing they need at present".

"Any MEP who fails to support this vote on Thursday will have a lot of explaining to do to those whose businesses rely on red diesel", concluded Sir Robert.

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