Amendments made to HMRC’s red diesel guidance - Here’s what it means for tractor runs and ploughing matches

Participants in charity tractor runs will be permitted to use red diesel after 1 April, HMRC has confirmed.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Changes were made to the guidance in relation to the use of red diesel earlier this week.

The guidance on ‘using rebated fuels in vehicles and machines’ (Excise Notice 75) has now been amended and will allow tractor runs, ploughing matches and agriculture shows to continue as activities accepted as ‘purposes relating to agriculture, horticulture and forestry’.

This news will be well received by the farming community, the Ulster Farmers’ Union has said.

The updated guidance states that activities falling within the definition of agriculture will include ‘running or participating in events which provide information and education that benefit agriculture, horticulture or forestry, including taking part in charitable activities that promote these industries’.

UFU deputy president, David Brown, commented: “HMRC has made the right decision by including tractor runs, in addition to shows and ploughing matches as activities that provide information, education and raise money for charity.

“This will be well received by our members and rural communities that host tractor runs and many other agri events to raise vital funds for charities across Northern Ireland. 

“Earlier in the month, HMRC backtracked on changes to red diesel usage rules, to include ploughing matches and agricultural shows but left out tractor runs.

“We outlined our disappointment to HMRC that tractor runs organised as charity events or for educational purposes, were not included in this amendment and it’s encouraging that they reviewed this position following pressures from the industry and politicians.

“It’s good that common sense has prevailed and our rural communities can continue to raise essential funds through tractor runs and other agri events,” Mr Brown concluded.

Upper Bann MP Carla Lockhart, meanwhile, has said the Chancellor’s spring statement was a “missed opportunity” to pause the removal of the red diesel rebate on 1 April.

She welcomed clarification that the use of red diesel would remain eligible at agricultural shows, ploughing matches and charity tractor runs, as well as for clearing show and cutting hedges.

Ms Lockhart stated: “The Treasury has now said that the red diesel changes will not apply to tractor runs and people participating in such fundraisers will be able to use red diesel.

“This was confirmed in writing by Exchequer Secretary Helen Whately.

“If this is accurate, this is good news but still a no help to our construction, haulage, waste and quarry sector.

“HMT are tone deaf on this issue and have treated these industries appallingly with no engagement and dismissal of their concerns.

“If HMT don’t step back from this proposed change it will see major job losses, a slump in construction, increased food prices and transport costs and ultimately the closure of businesses.

“It is no exaggeration to say that the cost in terms of business longevity and sustainability will be extremely high.

“I have consistently challenged the Government on this policy highlighting that it is the right policy but the wrong time.”

She continued: “No greener alternatives exist on the market and emissions will be the same whether the vehicle is run on red or white diesel.

“The Government is silent when questioned on claims that it will improve air quality and help achieve Net Zero, because they know that this is not the case.

“Over the next week we will continue to press for a commonsense approach to this issue.

“We are asking for five years to allow alternatives to make their way into the market.

“If the UK Government are serious about levelling up and improving infrastructure then they need to support out local companies not penalise them financially with this tax grab,” Ms Lockhart ended.