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Red diesel

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 is 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.

A consultation was announced in the Spring Statement made in Parliament on 13 March 2019. The following is the relevant extract from the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Written Ministerial Statement: -

Consultation on the use of diesel by private pleasure craftA consultation seeking evidence on the likely impact of the government’s proposal to require diesel-powered private pleasure craft to only use full duty paid heavy oil (white diesel) for propulsion, replacing the existing system where private pleasure craft use marked gas oil (red diesel) but pay the white diesel rate of fuel duty. 

The RYA has been in close dialogue with Government since the ruling of the EU Court was announced in October 2018 and is now liaising with the HMRC officials who are managing the consultation. HMRC have committed to meeting with the RYA and British Marine, the Inland Waterways Association and the Cruising Association in advance of the consultation being launched in early summer.

Boaters should experience no change in respect of their use of red diesel both in the UK and overseas until the UK Government makes changes to existing legislation. The RYA will be lobbying for any new legislation to include a transition period of sufficient length to recognise that changes will need to be made to the supply system and that the marker dye in red diesel will be detectable in boat fuel systems for a considerable period of time after the commencement date of any change to the use of white diesel.

The RYA’s Cruising, Legal and Government Affairs team is analysing the full impact for our 112,000 members and the recreational boating community and will work to ensure the continued availability of diesel for the leisure boating community.

Should you have any difficulties with red diesel abroad, please contact the RYA’s Cruising, Legal and Government Affairs team via or 023 8060 4232.

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