Industry experts are calling on the government to make a u-turn over its recent fuel tax hike.The 2p increase, which came into force on October 1, has pushed the price of diesel and unleaded petrol above the £1-per-litre mark in many forecourts around the country.

The PRA said the move should have been deferred until the price of oil had fallen, and has urged Gordon Brown to re-think his fuel policy.

The group is also asking the prime minister to defer slapping on any further price rises at the pumps - another two tax increases are planned between now and April 2009.

Peter Brough, chairman of the PRA and managing director of Manor Service Stations, said: "The current increase is very unfair on motorists and the industry alike. It will have a detrimental impact on the road haulage industry.

"We had asked publicly that the current increase be deferred. We still think this should be the case. And we’d like to see the next two planned fuel duty rises to also be deferred."

The government has also been criticised by groups such as the AA, the Freight Transport Association and the Road Haulage Association (RHA).

And angry motorists have been making their feelings heard online.

Meanwhile, the PRA has warned that smaller independent petrol stations will be hit hardest by any increase in fuel duty.

The Association said the recent hike would add to pressure from competition from supermarket chains, which was already squeezing profits.

Drivers have been warned to expect record petrol prices this winter as high oil prices combine with the extra fuel duty.

Roger King, chief executive of the RHA, added: "We need to step up our argument as strongly as we can. We are writing to MPs to argue our case. Our fuel prices are the highest in Europe, so where does that leave the UK haulage industry when we’re trying to compete with foreign firms?

"We are trying to fight the move. But I do fear there’s a real problem of a meeting of minds over this matter."