Aberdeenshire motorists are in line for cut-price fuel under plans to help struggling families in rural areas.
The region is included in a major new consultation by the Treasury as UK ministers prepare proposals to extend a 5p-a-litre discount on petrol and diesel.
Last year, the initiative was launched on the Western Isles and Chief Treasury Secretary Danny Alexander wants to see it expanded to remote parts of the mainland.
The Government will be contacting nearly 1,500 retailers in 35 counties and districts across the UK to assess the price of fuel.
The first of its kind and scale, the consultation will be used to gather evidence to take to the European Commission in the autumn to seek permission to extend the rebate.
Gordon MP Sir Malcolm Bruce welcomed the move.
He said: “I am encouraged by the Treasury’s willingness to consider adding rural areas, including Aberdeenshire, to the parts of the UK which are entitled to a fuel rebate.
“People in Aberdeenshire have often been frustrated by high fuel prices which realistically form an essential but significant cost to their household budgets. I hope that local fuel retailers will respond to the Government’s consultation and help make the strongest case possible to take to Europe.”
Aberdeenshire’s inclusion in the consultation area, along with Moray, the Highlands and Argyll, raises hopes that that discount could be extended to the North-east.
However, the Treasury has insisted there would have to be evidence that mainlamnd regions consistently suffered from similarly high fuel prices to those on the islands.
The consultation is expected to last about two months.