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Red diesel and British recreational sailors - government backs down

by Des Ryan on 7 Mar 2012
Red diesel dilemma - most UK marine outlets sell red diesel, not ’white’ .. .
British boaters using red diesel can now relax. Recreational boaters had been told that from April 01 they would risk fines if they moved into international waters without signing a declaration that their boat was not being powered by red diesel.

Now it appears that the government will change its proposed adjustment to the Hydrocarbon Oil Duties Act, after a meeting with the Royal Yachting Association and the British Marine Federation this week.


The changes, which were said to be brought in at the insistence of the European Commission, would have caused huge problems for up to 1 million recreational boat owners.

It had planned to make sailors buying red diesel from April 1 sign to say it would only be used in UK waters, but the declaration will now be a reminder that other countries can apply their rules to boats in their waters.

The RYA’s head of government affairs, Gus Lewis, told media representatives after the meeting, 'The proposed revised wording for the declaration was unacceptable and we are pleased that Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs has recognised our serious concerns.

Currently the European Commission has referred the matter to the European Court of Justice, because it believes the availability of marked diesel in the UK infringes EU law, but it is hoped that the new wording will alleviate concerns.

Red diesel – diesel containing a red dye – is used by farmers and commercial fisherman at a lower rate of duty.
It is also used by recreational sailors and yacht owners in the UK

The changes had alarmed the yachting community, which said using 'white' – or unmarked – diesel would cause a raft of problems for weekend sailors.

'White diesel is not currently available from the vast majority of marine suppliers in harbours and marinas,' the Cruising Association had warned. 'It is not feasible to install a second tank and pump for white diesel in many of these locations. Where it is feasible, the proposed timescale is not sufficient to make the necessary changes in time,'
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