HM Treasury has confirmed its decision to maintain recreational boaters’ entitlement to use red diesel beyond April 2022.
The decision allows for easy refuelling in England, Wales and Scotland for safe sailing and will avoid the logistical and environmental difficulty for the fuel supply industry of changing from red to white diesel.
As part of the Spring Budget announcement, the government stated that it is not changing the treatment of private pleasure craft in Great Britain where they will continue to be able to use red diesel and pay their fuel supplier the difference between the red diesel rate and the white diesel rate on the proportion they intend to use for propulsion.
RYA’s Director of External Affairs, Howard Pridding, said: “We are delighted with the decision on the continued entitlement on the use of red diesel for recreational boaters. Availability of fuel at the waterside and the safety implications which that may have meant for boaters has always remained our primary concern. We have a long history of engaging with government on this issue, and we are grateful to HMRC officials who have listened and taken pragmatic decisions.”
Speaking on behalf of the Regulations and Technical Services (RATS) group of the Cruising Association, Colin Heywood said: “As a consequence, the government has accepted that it will not change the treatment of private pleasure craft in Great Britain, and we will continue to be able to use red diesel and pay our fuel supplier the difference between the red diesel rate and the white diesel rate on the proportion we intend to use for propulsion. This move is welcomed by the members of the Cruising Association who have always lobbied to have one source of fuel.”
In Northern Ireland, however, recreational boaters will no longer be able to use red diesel for propelling their craft. This is to ensure the UK meets its international obligations under the Northern Ireland Protocol of the Withdrawal Agreement. It will also align with fuel used by private pleasure craft in the Republic of Ireland, which the government believes will make it simpler for private pleasure craft users to access the fuel they need if they sail between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (and vice versa). The change to white diesel is expected to be in force by June of this year.
For the fuel suppliers, Cruising Association members and others who keep their boats in Northern Ireland, who may visit Great Britain, the extremely short time for transition will produce the same changeover problems previously submitted to HMRC. The CA will be talking to HMRC to clarify their exact details, so as to establish a time scale to accommodate the change.
The RYA’s Howard Pridding added: “We are disappointed that the same allowances have not been granted for recreational boaters in Northern Ireland. We will work with our colleagues in RYA Northern Ireland and continue to maintain dialogue with government on the practical difficulties that it is going to present.”