THE price of petrol and diesel is not as high as it was a while back. But it’s not cheap to fill up your car and in East Lothian it’s often essential.

Many jobs, such as health visitors and care workers, require one and although there’s recompense for mileage, it isn’t keeping up with costs. It also affects the self-employed, where tradesmen seek to offset mileage incurred from their tax bill.

It’s something I’ve raised before with the Chancellor. It was therefore interesting to attend a briefing on a report by the union Unison along with the RAC Foundation, showing that the current 45p per mile rate set by HMRC is entirely inadequate.

Many there were in vital jobs and they narrated how it was costing them simply to carry out their work, as mileage expenses didn’t offset what they had spent, never mind the hassle and delay incurred in getting them. The report detailed that the rate should now be 63.4p per mile, the current rate having been set as long ago as 2011, yet fuel costs have rocketed since.

Moreover, fuel is just one aspect of what the rate is supposed to cover, as wear and tear and insurance are all required. The report showed that fuel had risen the least of all costs related to car use. Keeping a vehicle on the road is getting more expensive and many are now paying the price of what’s required to be able to do their work.

I also attended a meeting with the Civil Nuclear Constabulary. Many in East Lothian will have seen their vehicles patrolling the perimeters of Torness, and some officers no doubt live locally. It’s a specialist and vital service. There are, though, changes to their remit coming in the Energy Bill, as they’re expanding from protection of nuclear sites to that of critical national infrastructure.

That’s a sensible move. Initially it’s the likes of St Fergus Gas Terminal in Aberdeenshire but it should also cover other energy installations, including those from renewables which are being constructed here in East Lothian.