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Red diesel

In the Spring 2021 budget HM Treasury confirmed that following public consultation it had been decided that recreational boaters' entitlement to use red diesel would continue beyond April 2022 in Great Britain.

However, in Northern Ireland, 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 RYA is disappointed that the same entitlement has 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 this decision creates and to seek a more pragmatic solution. 


In October 2018 the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland had failed to fulfil its obligations under Council Directive 95/60/EC on fiscal marking of gas oils.

In effect, following the Court’s ruling, the expectation of the European Commission was that the UK must stop allowing the use of red diesel for the purposes of propulsion of a private pleasure craft and must therefore switch to white diesel.

Consultation on the use of diesel by private pleasure craft

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) launched a consultation in July 2019 (see latest updates) which outlined how the government intended to implement the judgment that required private pleasure craft to use white diesel for propulsion.

The government intended to abolish the scheme introduced in 2008 that allows users of diesel powered private pleasure craft (e.g. yachts, canal boats and motorboats) to purchase red diesel and pay the duty differential between red and white diesel on the fuel used for propulsion.

The RYA responded to the consultation in line with its policy on this issue. The RYA response set out the many practical issues that implementation of the court ruling would cause and it sought a long transition period if the UK remained compelled to implement the judgement. The RYA also urged Government not to implement the CJEU judgement in the event of a no deal Brexit. 

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