The Cruising Association’s Regulations and Technical Services group (RATS) has been in communication with HMRC and confirmed, as a result of the March Budget Statement, that it is their intention to legislate that red diesel in the United Kingdom can only be used in agricultural equipment, on the railways and for non-commercial heating from 1st April 2022.
Since the propulsion of waterborne craft does not fit into these categories, it is HMRC's intention that they will have to use white diesel for this purpose. The duty on white diesel for boats will be the same as the full rate paid on white road diesel in the UK. This means that the present so called '60/40' fuel duty split will disappear but commercial vessels, such as fishing boats, will still be able to claim a rebate on the full rate through their 'Marine Voyages Relief' scheme.
HMRC are exploring the issues involved in introducing a scheme that allows private pleasure craft to pay only the current lower rate for red diesel non-propulsion uses.
RATS welcomes the clarification on the use of white diesel which should make it more conveniently available throughout the United Kingdom from marinas and ports as they will have to supply all marine vessels with one colour of diesel. The bonus will be that sailors can continue to fulfil the SOLAS V regulations for sea voyages and no longer have the concern of the presence of red diesel in their tanks when visiting EU Maritime States.
HMRC continue to say there will be a forthcoming consultation from them which will deal with the full range of issues involved. Unfortunately, there is no indication as to when this will be published due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A spokesperson for RATS points out that private pleasure craft should continue to legally use red diesel as they currently do, since it is still the only easily available diesel fuel throughout the UK. At the moment, it is far from clear if boat owners will be able to sail to EU State waters in the remainder of the 2020 season, but if they can do so, they might wish to continue to follow the CA’s advice on using red diesel when visiting the EU which can be found on their publicly accessible page here.
20 April 2020