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At Budget 2020, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a change in red diesel eligibility from the 1st April 2022, which will mean that many sectors will lose permission to use red diesel to power off-road vehicles and equipment. This will pose a huge challenge for many businesses; however, this legislation change is just one of the steps needed to help improve air quality and assist the UK in achieving its net zero 2050 carbon target.
At Budget 2020, the government announced that from the 1st April 2022, it will remove the entitlement for most sectors to use red diesel, with the exception of agriculture, horticulture, fish farming, forestry, rail and non-commercial heating system users.
This means that any business operating outside of these sectors must use fuel that is taxed at the standard rate for white diesel. The change in legislation is needed to encourage red diesel users to ditch the diesel, as essentially, the higher the price, the higher the likelihood that businesses will opt for cleaner fuels.
Red diesel, also known as gas oil, makes up around 15% of diesel use in the UK due to its low duty rate and is currently accountable for approximately 14 million tonnes of CO2 emissions every year.
At time of writing, red diesel has a duty rate of 11.14 pence per litre which is comparably less than the 57.95 ppl for white diesel. This rate has been in place since 2010, due to a 10-year freeze on fuel duty so it’s expected to come as a big adjustment for many businesses.
As its name implies, red diesel contains a red dye which is designed to leave behind traces in engines and pipelines so HMRC and environmental agencies can identify prohibited use. For example, when drivers have illegally used red diesel in road-going vehicles in place of white diesel to profit from the 81% discount that red diesel currently benefits from.
This means that when those who will lose their red diesel entitlement switch over to white diesel, the dye residue would be left behind. Situations such as this could potentially mislead authorities to believe that anyone who has legally bought white diesel has illegitimately used red diesel in the past.
Nonetheless, the government is not asking businesses to empty or replace their tanks ahead of the ban, due to the high costs incurred. To help combat the issue, suppliers are being asked to replace or flush out fuel tanks and pumps in anticipation of the tax changes, to help avoid red diesel remnants lingering in tanks when delivering white diesel.
However, fuel suppliers are being asked to replace fuel tanks or flush out tanks and pumps before the red diesel tax changes to ensure no trace of red diesel remains when supplying white diesel. Suppliers will also be required to monitor the use of red diesel going forward and ensure that all fuel supplied to a sector that will lose entitlement uses all red diesel before this date.
The government has acknowledged that the change in red diesel eligibility will cause financial difficulties for a number of sectors so it launched a consultation period that ran between July 2020 and 1 October 2020 to give users the chance to submit their opinions on the proposed new legislation.
Responses are being evaluated and any sectors that ought to retain their entitlement will be considered, with HMRC set to publish draft legislation for consultation in 2021.
Private pleasure craft can currently use red diesel for propulsion and non-propulsion use; however, they must pay white diesel rates on fuel used for propulsion. However, at Budget 2020, the government announced that it will accept the Finance Bill 2020 legislation to prohibit red diesel in propel private craft. The details have not yet been confirmed, but the move is to achieve unity with the 2018 judgement by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) and ensure the UK is compliant with global requirements.
As a result, private pleasure craft users will now be required to use white diesel for propulsion. They will still be permitted to use red diesel for non-propulsion such as for heat, light and to power appliances. However, they must use white diesel for both propulsion and non-propulsion if only one fuel tank is on board.
The red diesel ban will not affect existing fuel duty reliefs which give sectors 100% relief on fuel duty, even those which will no longer be entitled to use red diesel. So, commercial boats like ferries and fishing boats operating at sea or within the limits of a port will remain eligible for the Marine Voyages Relief.
The General Lighthouse Authorities and Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) will go on to benefit from full duty relief, even when swapping to white diesel from the 1st April 2022. But they must pay the standard 20% VAT that applies to diesel, instead of the reduced 5% rate of VAT that applies to up to 2,300 litres of red diesel.
The current low cost of red diesel has arguably created a barrier for the rise in alternative fuels. Hopefully, the change in red diesel eligibility will generate a more competitive green fuel market and allow the cost of renewable fuels, like Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO), to fall.
HVO fuel adheres to the EN 15940 and ASTM D975 specifications, so it can be used as a drop-in alternative without adjusting your engines or operational infrastructure. In addition, HVO offers greatly extended storage properties and avoids diesel’s stability issues due to its chemical structure, which contains no FAME or aromatic compounds.
The advanced renewable fuel is made from 100% renewable materials and reduces net greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90%. Therefore, there is no better time to make the switch to HVO fuel and reap the benefits of a cleaner drop-in diesel alternative.
As one of the only bulk HVO fuel suppliers and stockists in the UK, we can deliver to you anywhere nationwide on a 24/7 basis. To learn more and request a quote, call our HVO fuel experts today on 0330 123 3773. If you’re new to this type of fuel, you can learn more by visiting our HVO fuel FAQ for a more detailed look at the benefits of making the switch.
Source: Gov.UK website
Information accurate at the time of writing (20th October 2020).