RYANI seeks clarity on red diesel implications for recreational boaters in Northern Ireland

05 Mar 21

As part of the Spring Budget announcement, the UK Government stated thatit is not changing the treatment of private pleasure craft in Great Britain.They will continue to be able to use red diesel and pay their fuel supplier thedifference between the red diesel rate and the white diesel rate on theproportion they intend to use for propulsion.However, in Northern Ireland recreational boaters will no longer be ableto use red diesel for propelling their craft and will need to use white dieselfrom June onwards.

Thegovernment response to the consultation outlines: “In Northern Ireland, privatepleasure craft users will no longer be able to use red diesel for propellingtheir craft. This will achieve consistency with the 2018 judgment by the Courtof Justice of the European Union (CJEU) and ensure the UK meets itsinternational obligations under the Northern Ireland Protocol of the WithdrawalAgreement.“Itwill also align with fuel used by private pleasure craft in the Republic ofIreland, which should make it simpler for private pleasure craft users toaccess the fuel they need if they sail between Northern Ireland and theRepublic of Ireland (and vice versa).”

The RYA Northern Ireland, is seeking clarity on these changes.  RichardHoneyford, Chief Operating Office for RYA Northern Ireland, explains: “Whilethe rationale to keep private pleasure craft in line with commercialentitlements has been taken in Great Britain, the same rationale does notappear to have been applied in Northern Ireland.

“Thiswill provide a number of immediate challenges across both inland and coastalwaterways, where there is little or no waterside infrastructure currently inplace in order to supply white diesel to recreational craft. At the moment,there are pumps for red diesel; to change this will take time and expense in order  to develop an adequate and accessible supply within the given timeframes.”

Headds: “RYA Northern Ireland is also asking for clarification on how the newrules may be regulated.  We welcome someindications on how HMRC would view any ‘run off’ of red diesel in tanks. Withcurrent lockdown restrictions, many boat owners have filled their tanks withred diesel and this needs considered toavoid boat owners becoming inadvertently caught out by these changes.

“Manyprivate boat owners also cruise to Great Britain, where only red diesel will be available.We will need clarity around how any craft entering or returning to Northern Ireland  with red diesel in their tanks will be considered."

RYANI welcomes that there will be a new relief scheme in place to help avoiddisproportionately penalising NI boaters, however, details of this scheme are yet to be published.  RYANI's current advice to boat owners is to retain all receipts, including VAT, inrelation to the purchase of red diesel up to any changeover date, and then anysubsequent receipts proving the purchase of white diesel.

RYAand RYA Northern Ireland have requested a meeting with HMRC to outline theseconcerns and seek further clarification.