Last week HMRC announced that Farmers would be allowed to grit roads using their vehicles and machinery that are powered by red diesel. This is the second time this year that HMRC have lifted their ban on rebated fuel, after the heavy snowfall in February. This led to HMRC saying they would review the policy on red diesel gritting.
During the winter of 2010, when the country was covered in a blanket of snow, Farmers were left outraged when HMRC refused to lift the ban on red diesel gritting, even though some parts of the country had experienced their highest levels of snowfall in years. This had a huge effect on rural communities as council spending cuts were firmly underway, public gritting was only available in urban areas. Some rural areas were left to fend for themselves and many residents were left with no option but to stay at home.
Under the current permanent law only vehicles designed specifically for gritting can use red diesel on public roads. This means that any Farmer wanting to help with gritting in the local area would have to empty their tank of red diesel and then refill it with regular diesel before carrying out the work. For many Farmers, this is more hassle than it’s worth, as emptying a tank is not an easy task and comes with all sorts of risks.
The NFU have welcomed the temporary policy lift; “We are pleased that HMRC have taken a sensible approach on this matter – some areas are already receiving the first snowfall this winter while other areas are preparing for what looks to be a cold few weeks ahead”.
HMRC are expected to announce whether they intend to make red diesel gritting permanently legal early next year.
HMRC’s policy on red diesel usage can be seen here.