17 July 2019

IWA is appealing to boaters and boatyard operators to respond to an HMRC consultation following the announcement that private pleasure craft in the UK will be prohibited from using red diesel.  The consultation, about the likely timescales required for implementing the change, follows the statement in the Spring Budget that HMRC would seek evidence on the impact of the government’s proposal to comply with the judgment made last year by the European Court of Justice.

IWA met with HMRC officials late last year, along with British Marine, the Cruising Association, and the Royal Yachting Association; with all four boating representative bodies putting the case that a change to using white diesel would create insurmountable problems for boat users and the industry.

The implementation of the ruling would mean the end of the use of red diesel for any leisure boating.  Whilst red diesel could continue to be used for heating, it would have to be in a separate tank, and there would be no dispensation for any proportion of fuel used by the engine for generating heat and light.  Commercially operated boats would still be able to use red diesel, as would residential boaters with proof of fixed moorings, but boats without a home mooring who are continuously cruising would be required to use white diesel.

IWA considers that it is not practical for most boats that use the inland waterways to have two tanks; that inappropriate modifications would raise safety concerns; and that many diesel suppliers would simply not supply both red and white diesel due to the costs of installing additional equipment.  IWA is particularly concerned that this change may encourage people to take measures that could adversely impact the environment and safety, such as increased use of generators in confined spaces or spillages from containers of fuel purchased away from the waterways.  IWA is also concerned that the increased costs faced by both boat owners and boatyard operators will make an already expensive pastime unaffordable to some existing boaters and to many potential new boaters.

IWA will be taking up the offer from HMRC for further meetings during the consultation, and encourages all boating organisations, boatyards, diesel suppliers, and boat owners to respond to the consultation and provide evidence of the practical implications of the proposals.

The consultation runs until 9th September and can be found on the Government website.