Following the RYA's meeting with HMRC earlier this month the Government has publicly confirmed in its 2012 Budget Statement (21 March) that it has no intention to make it unlawful for red diesel bought in the UK to be used outside UK territorial waters.
The RYA had objected in the strongest terms to Government's original amendments published on 20 February 2012 and made it clear that restricting the use of marked 'red' diesel to UK waters would not be acceptable.
Gus Lewis Head of Government Affairs "The wording in the revised declaration is now clear that no change has been made to the ability of UK boaters to use red diesel when cruising or racing outside UK territorial waters.
"UK fiscal law only applies within UK territorial waters and the UK laws covering the use of red diesel therefore also only apply in UK waters. In international waters, recreational boaters are not subject to any restrictions on the use of red diesel.
"The revised declaration does, however, remind boaters that other coastal states may apply their own rules on the use of red diesel in recreational craft, which has been the case for many years.
"Most coastal states however choose to apply the principle of 'comity' and do not apply their fiscal rules to visiting yachts".
Any person purchasing red diesel for a private pleasure craft must make a declaration at the time of purchase of the proportion of fuel being used for propulsion purposes.
The purpose of the declaration is demonstrate that duty has been paid on the purchased fuel and will, as of 1 April 2012 also to remind the purchaser that they will be subject to the national legislation of a Member State when entering their territorial waters.
There is no requirement to carry a copy of the declaration when voyaging in the UK or abroad.
As from 1 April 2012 this declaration will now read:
I declare that [ ]% of the fuel purchased will be used for propelling a private pleasure craft.
I am aware that the Hydrocarbon Oil Duties Act 1979, which permits the use of marked diesel to propel private pleasure craft, only applies within UK waters. I acknowledge that nothing in that Act, or the making of this declaration, affects any restrictions or prohibitions that may apply to the use of fuel for propelling private pleasure craft outside UK waters, including any restrictions or prohibitions under the law of another Member State that apply within the waters of that Member State.
Intention behind the amendment
HMRC has made it clear that the intention behind this amendment is to minimise the risk of a successful legal challenge by the European Commission, which opened infraction proceedings against the UK last July.
The RYA hopes that as a result of the amendment to the declaration the Commission will withdraw its infraction proceedings against the UK, which would not only secure the continued supply of diesel for all recreational boating interests in the UK but would also greatly assist the RYA's discussions with the Belgian Government.
The RYA continues to lobby the Belgian Government, both directly and together with the Belgian Motoryachting Association (LBWB-MY) in an effort to persuade it to adopt a similar approach to the Dutch Government, which is to accept the use of red diesel bought in the UK in recreational craft, provided that it can be shown that the duty has been paid and the most recent purchase of red diesel was within the last 12 months.
To read the Government's announcement relating to red diesel made today as part of the Chancellors Budget Statement go to http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/budget2012/index.htm