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The use of Red Diesel within UK territorial waters

01 March 2012
With the publication on 20th February 2012 of HMRC's consultation documents on the purchase of Red Diesel for use in propelling private pleasure craft, the RYA has entered into the debate saying that the proposals present a real problem for recreational boaters. 

Under the HMRC proposals, recreational boaters buying discounted price Red Diesel, would have to sign a declaration which implies there is a legal restriction on the use of Red Diesel purchased in the UK for use in propelling private pleasure craft outside UK waters. 

Head of Government Affairs for the RYA, Gus Lewis, said: “We have had a very positive working relationship with HMRC, which has worked hard over the years to accommodate recreational boating interests. However, the RYA cannot support this proposed amendment to the Hydrocarbon Oils Duties Act 1979. I have been in contact with HMRC today about the consultation documents and will keep boaters informed of progress.” 

View the HMRC information including the consultation process.

The closeness of the implementation date has meant that the consultation period is to close on 11th March this year.

The questions remain what if we want to go to France, Belgium the Netherlands or further afield and where do boats fill up that have come from the continent before returning? Are boats likely to be fined if they turn up on the continent with marked red diesel in their tanks? It is not practical to drain and flush tanks and fuel lines prior to departing and the fact remains that there is currently not a white diesel marine supply network in the UK. White road diesel is Ultra Low Sulphur and contains a percentage of bio-diesel in contrast to the ‘900ppm sulphur’ and ‘no bio-diesel’ specification of marked ‘red’ diesel sold at Cowes Harbour Fuels.

In practice it appears that Belgium are the only EU country causing real problems; the RYA have produced a very useful information sheet that is available here.

As a result of this and the advice on the RYA website, Cowes Harbour Fuels will not be selling white diesel by 1st April, but will wait for further guidance from the industry before considering any changes, in the meantime we will continue to sell red diesel with no bio-diesel and with the regular sulphur content of 900ppm.

Rod Hodgson
Deputy Harbour Master
Cowes Harbour Commission

• The use of Red Diesel within UK Territorial waters only from 1st April 2012



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